Child of the River
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Child of the River

Thomas Nelson / 2016 / Paperback

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Product Description

Child of the River, by Irma Joubert

Persomi is a poor young white girl who is the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld.  Her world is very small, as she has never even been to the local village.  She is close with her older brother Gerbrand who leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and her friend Boelie Fourie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, leaving Persomi alone in her small world.  As her new life unfolds, she dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice, equality and love. Her world changes again as the tragedies of war and racial conflict of her homeland show her who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life and every life matters.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 390
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 8.40 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0718083105
ISBN-13: 9780718083106

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Publisher's Description

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune—are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her—dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her—the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland—she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life—and every life—matters.

The English language publication of Child of the River solidifies Irma Joubert as a unique and powerful voice in historical fiction.

International bestselling author IRMA JOUBERT was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing fiction. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She is the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.

Author Bio

International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She’s the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels. Facebook: irmajoubertpage

 

Editorial Reviews

'This is a thoughtful and provoking novel to be savored.”
“Joubert (The Girl from the Train) once again demonstrates a knack for stringing believable, interesting characters through a historical South African landscape. Not just a sweet romantic novel, Joubert’s book is a testament to the value of hard work and perseverance.”

Product Reviews

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3.4 out Of 5
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  1. Sally M
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Poverty and Hope in South Africa
    March 8, 2017
    Sally M
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Child of the River was first released in the Afrikaans language in South Africa in 2010. It'ss now the second of Irma Joubert's novels to be released in English in the USA by Thomas Nelson. It focuses on Persomi, the fourth child of seven, raised by an abusive father in absolute poverty. It's expected that she'll receive a minimal education before going to the city to find work. Determined to better herself, however, Persomi studies hard despite being looked down on for her old clothes and lack of shoes. When her family's circumstances change, she's able to break the cycle of poverty but it comes at a cost.

    This novel spans 30 years, covering the impact of World War II on South Africa and the transformation of the country into an apartheid state. The focus in the second half is on a legal struggle based on something called the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act, 1946. Persomi, now an adult, assists the local Indian community fighting against forced removal. While some of her close friends support her stand, others have opinions that seem horrific today but were considered normal at the time.

    Child of the River was an eye opening read. I'd never really thought about white South Africans experiencing poverty. Nor did I know much about the differences between Afrikaner and English white South Africans. It also showed how big a factor education is in escaping poverty and hopelessness. I found some sympathetic characters and some really unlikeable ones and, perhaps surprisingly, their thoughts on race didn't affect my opinions of them. One negative was the constant and stilted form of some of the idioms used, but this could've been a translation issue. The ending takes place in 1968 and is sudden. The final scene is lovely, however, and left me full of unexpected emotion. Having read Joubert's The Girl From the Train and not been overly impressed, I have to say I far preferred Child of the River and I'd definitely recommend it.

    Thank you to TNZFiction's Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of Child of the River. No review was required.
  2. D
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    eye opener
    March 3, 2017
    D
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    Persomi grew up a white daughter of sharecroppers in South Africa just prior to WWII. Her world was limited to the farm. She was a bright young girl who learned about the world through books and newspapers she got from the main house. Her closest friends is an older brother and an heir to a nearby farm and fortune. The war opens her world and desire for an education and profession. She becomes a lawyer and fights for justice and equality as apartheid separates the families in her community.
  3. bookblogger
    Western Michigan
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    well-written historical fiction by Irma Joubert
    January 29, 2017
    bookblogger
    Western Michigan
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Child of the River by Irma Joubert

    This book is the coming of age story of Persomi, a poor, white, sharecroppers daughter in South Africa. She rises above her circumstances in the the bushveld at the beginning of apartheid. As a lawyer, she follows her heart and stands for what she believes in, although it is certainly not popular.

    Joubert makes the history of South Africa come alive, especially with the effect that it has on the characters in the book. It was a painless and interesting way to learn some history about a country that I know little about.

    Jouberts characters were well-drawn, and for the most part, admirable. I loved Persomi, for her dedication to the truth and her willingness to suffer for the right things. Boelie was a man of integrity and upheld his principles even when life would have been easier otherwise.

    I liked several things about the noveI besides its characters. I liked the fact that this novel spanned many years and I got to see the characters and the plot develop. I also liked the way the author broke the chapters into sections regarding historical facts or the storyline of the characters. This technique made the book easy to read.

    The ending was worthy of some tears, and it did catch me by surprise. It was utterly satisfying. I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. They will not be disappointed. I received a copy from the publisher for my honest review.
  4. Magister
    Michigan
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Fragile hopes, strong dreams
    January 4, 2017
    Magister
    Michigan
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 0
    Another wonderful book by Irma Joubert that gives us a new look at history, as well as a window into the souls of her characters. Translated from Afrikaans into indigenous English by Else Silke, this novel puts a face and voice to the issue of apartheid in South Africa through the life of Persomi Pieterse. She is raised as the middle child of illiterate bywoners (sharecroppers) who is able to break free from the poverty and violence of her home with her gifts of athleticism and intelligence. The key to her escape is that knowledge that brutal Lewies Pieterse is not her biological father. And yet the day she finally learns the identity of her real father is the saddest day of her life. This point of the book was as disturbing as Persomi's half-sister becoming pregnant by incestuous rape, or the family's traumatic losses during WWII. But all these bitter ingredients are necessary parts of the recipe for the determined woman this "exceptional" girl grows up to be. Persomi matures into a lawyer committed to justice for every class of citizens, and a woman who knows (and is willing to pay) the ultimate price for true love and friendship. She truly becomes one of the "real" people she idolized during her childhood... and then some!

    I absolutely loved this book. It is romantic without sexual content, and Christian without being preachy. Joubert's historical research and innate gift for drawing her readers into her characters' hearts and time-frame make it a delicious escape for serious readers. I received a copy from the publisher via The Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review.
  5. Rebecca Maney
    Gastonia, North Carolina
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Beautifully Written Book!
    January 3, 2017
    Rebecca Maney
    Gastonia, North Carolina
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "It's hard to be a woman, child."

    Persomi's life as the daughter of poor sharecroppers on a South African farm is difficult at best. Sharing poverty with her abusive father, overwhelmed mother and multiple siblings, Persomi develops a strong bond with her older brother Gerbrand, who challenges her to use the head on her shoulders; "it's not just there to keep your ears apart". Proving to be quite bright, Persomi is offered the chance for an education and thrives in a clean, stimulating, academic environment. But the young girl's heart and soul cling to her "mountain", where she has experienced life and loss for all of her days.

    As the years go by, and Persomi becomes aware that her heritage is not what it seems, that love is never guaranteed, and that the fight for the freedom of her countryman, no matter the color of their skin or the ethnicity of their birth, is not a battle that will be easily won. This beautifully written story, rich with historical references and samplings of complicated romance, will resonant with its readers long after the pages have turned.
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