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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Summary: These are stories that describe life in South Africa during apartheid, 1948 through 2000. Each story is narrated by a young person who is trying to make sense out of what’s happening to his or her life, family, community, and nation. This is a set of short stories about life in South Africa during apartheid
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, early reader, read aloud book, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 13; read yourself: 12 and up
Young Reader Reaction: Out of Bounds is historical fiction for junior high students. The thought-provoking tales are set simply, providing for easy comprehension. Each character is given a distinct, notable personality. Although their names may be foreign for some readers, the identifiable traits set each person apart. While these short stories seems like a fairly simple, straightforward read, there are moving messages on and between the pages. With each chapter, the reader learns of that year’s new government laws for segregating whites, blacks, Indians, and "coloreds." With each major, shocking event, the reader easily picks up on the prejudices and racism. However, also after each chapter, some main points of the subject remain hidden, leaving the reader an unanswered question sometimes without a correct answer. This aspect drew me deep into the book. I often found myself rereading some passages to hopefully better understand the situations. On the whole, I found Out of Bounds a very satisfying read; much like a book I would enjoy borrowing from the library.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is an excellent and informative collection of stories. One has to be horrified by the gratuitous pain and suffering foisted upon people of color by apartheid. More remarkable is the courage, determination, and graciousness that people of color demonstrated in restoring freedom to their homeland.
Pros: The author lived through the events described in this collection of stories. Her real life experience gives the stories a special and personal poignancy while her innate writing skills provide a clear and crisp narrative.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is an excellent collection of short stories. Each of the seven stories describes life in South Africa under apartheid.
Educational Themes: In 1948, the government of South Africa decided to manage the country’s racial differences by segregating and relocating people of color. These stories shed light on the inhumanity and pain that permeated the process and ruined the lives of millions. These stories chronicle man’s inhumanity to man and can serve as conversation starters on the plight of Africans today.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 4.0 AWARDS: Jane Addams Children's Book Award, ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Children's Africana Book Award for Older Readers, Parents' Choice Silver Honor
Literary Categories: Fiction - short stories, South Africa, society and culture
Date(s) Reviewed: February 2009, July 2009
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