Read advance reader review of Scatterlings by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe, page 3 of 5

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A Novel

by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe

Scatterlings by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe X
Scatterlings by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe
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There are currently 29 member reviews
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  • Laura D. (Newmarket, NH)
    Historical, Yet Timely
    I love reading fiction by international authors because of the cultural subtleties that come through in the story telling. The author's beautiful use of language and the unique writing style immediately captivated me. The variety of characters from representative groups of people inhabiting South Africa added depth and perspective to the story. The structure of the book was also very effective, allowing the reader to hear from Alisa directly. Moreover, the story had universal appeal, with themes of identity, belonging, and home. However, the African folk stories were not easy for me to understand and integrate into the storyline, even when reading some of them through a second time, which was disappointing for me.
  • Norma R. (Secaucus, NJ)
    Scatterings is a novel set in 1927 South Africa. The Immorality Act has just been passed, it prohibits sexual intercourse between people of different races. Abram and Alisa are an interracial couple with two children. Now their entire existence is threatened. Displacement is a big part of the plot. Alisa is "scattered", black and adopted by white parents she feels she does not belong. Awful events occur that change the family's life forever. What I enjoyed most about the novel was the storytelling. Native rituals and myths are mixed in with the events that are taking place. Glad I read Scatterlings, was a book I would not have found on my own.
  • Candace F. (Lincoln, NE)
    HIstory and Folklore
    Scatterlings was a very different kind of book than I usually read however I found it to be educational in the history of the Immorality Act of 1927, multilayered with societal issues of loss, interracial marriages, belonging and mental instability. This debut author is exemplar in weaving folklore with social issues that are current in our society today. The descriptive narrative on the feelings of depression and the spiraling down to the level of sucide/murder left the biggest impression on me. It was so tragically but authenically written it reached to the pit of my stomach. My two biggest take aways were delving into the question "where do we truly belong" and the laws and prejudices that deeply affect mental health. I certainly can see how this young author won so many outstanding awards for the novel and I feel it would be even more deeply experienced by the African people.
  • Joan R. (Chicago, IL)
    A Timely Novel for our Multi-Cultural World
    This is a novel that captures the complexity and contradictions of South Africa at a pivotal moment in its history. Set in 1927, the Immorality Act has just been passed which prohibits sexual relations between the races. We follow one family as it deals with the effects of the Act. The novel explores the question, "What does it mean to belong to a place?" We meet many 'scatterings', that is, as the epigraph tells us, those without a home, wanderers. Some find themselves in South Africa, because of birth, and others through migration. Each individual has a story, infused with myth and memory. In telling these stories, the novel introduced me to a place and world views very different from my own, but still concerned with topics we are dealing with today. It was eye-opening. As such, it is a very timely book given today's migrants and their stories. Beautifully written in prose that is poetic at times, the book stayed with me after I finished it, and I found myself rereading passages not only for their lyricism, but also for the thought-provoking issues explored by the author.
  • Vicky (Salinas, CA)
    Scatterlings - starts out great
    I zipped through the first part of the book as I was enthralled. I was heartbroken by some actions in the beginning, including by the government who made the act of interracial relationships illegal - horrible! I appreciated learning some history of South African including more about European Imperialism in the region. However I had a really hard time once getting to Alisa's journal. Some parts I skimmed to try to finish the book. I can see from some other reviewers greatly enjoyed the book. (I'd actually give it 3.5 stars rather than 4 if I could.)
    There are many issues that would be great for book club discussions - the choices made by the variety of characters and the relationships between family members, servants and friends.
  • Janine S. (Wyoming, MI)
    Complex and provocative
    This is a complex and provocative novel that questions what it means to belong. Starting with the passing of the Immorality Act of 1927 which prohibited sexual relations between Europeans (white people) and natives (basically anyone not white), the book traces the unraveling of the lives of Abram (a white man) and Alisa (a black woman) can Zijl and their two daughters, Dido and Emilia. The Van Zijl's are a family caught between time, cultures and nationalities. Alisa comes from the Caribbean, the adopted daughter of white parents but the daughter of enslaved parents. She travels to Africa to find her "roots" if you will. Abram is a white man and transplant to South Africa but who has taken root in the land but realizes the new law will set his family will be thrust out and not belong due to the harsh reality of apartheid. The frayed relationship between Abram and Alisa forms the heart of the story as their family is faced with the new law and the harsh reality of who really does this land really belong to. The structure of the book was interesting but at times I felt it was off putting in explaining the complexities of what was happening. The book is beautifully written though.
  • Kate G. (Bronx, NY)
    Set in South Africa in the early 20th century, Scatterlings examines the ramifications of the 1927 law which prevented blacks and whites from marrying and having relationships and was deemed retroactive. Abram and Alisa have been married and have 2 daughters and their lives are upended as they try to flee north to Southern Rhodesia. Alisa has always written in her journal and seems to have struggled with depression. One horrible act changes everything and the story deals with the fall out from Alisa's behavior. A large chunk near the end of the novel is devoted to Alisa's journals and while they are a character study, ultimately they bogged the novel down. A debut, the author may have tried to do too much. There is a lot of interiority, not only in the journals, but among the other characters. Very descriptive of the south South African flora and fauna, I am glad I was given the opportunity by BookBrowse and HarperVia to read this soon to be published novel.

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