Hum If You Don’t Know the Words (★★★★★)

Hum If You Don't Know the Words

Bianca Marasi   *   Putnam   *   July 11, 2017   *   432 Pages

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Robin Conrad is a white, ten-year old girl living in apartheid South Africa in the 1970s. Her family is relatively well-off, and despite the fact that her relationships with her demanding mother and charming yet volatile father are often tense, Robin still feels safe and sure of who she is and where she stands in her own world. But when her parents are suddenly murdered, Robin’s life is upended, and she is left an orphan who isn’t sure about anything anymore. It isn’t until she meets Beauty, an African woman desperately trying to locate her revolutionary daughter (now considered a criminal) in the city, that Robin begins to build a life of stability again—but this time with a better understanding of her true self, her friendships, and her surroundings.

 *     *     *     *     *

Good grief, I adored this book. The story interested me from the start. I couldn’t quite see where everything was going, and I loved being surprised by so many little details. For example, the backstory on Cat was unexpected but made so much sense! I appreciated that the characters in this novel were realistically flawed but also likable and endearing. I could easily empathize with them and their choices. I admired their resilience but also their willingness to acknowledge how difficult life can be. In the end, we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have, and the book communicated that message beautifully.

I am learning how love wells up and causes great pain when it has nowhere to go.

My only minor complaint is that the ending felt forced, maybe rushed. The last 20 pages or so were just a touch cliche and cheesy. I still felt satisfied with how everything turned out, but I was a little surprised by some of the decisions made (by one character in particular). Regardless, this is a wonderful book. I loved it, and can’t wait to read more from this author.


Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.

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