Read advance reader review of Scatterlings by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe, page 5 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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  • Jill S. (Durham, NC)
    A Lyrical Novel That Breaks Its Spell
    I anticipated that Scatterlings would be primarily about the ramifications of the South African Immortality Act, passed in 1927, which deemed it a crime for Europeans (whites) and natives (blacks) to engage in intimate relations.

    Indeed, this is how the novel starts out: Abram van Zijl and his emotionally unstable wife Alisa, parents of two mixed race daughters, find themselves in the crossfire of this immoral new law. But the author wants to examine the choices we make, what it means to belong, and the fervent allure and tragedy that draws people to (and forces them away from) Africa.

    It particularly focuses on Alisa, who was born the daughter of a Jamaican slave and adopted by an Englishman, leaving her to straddle the white/black divide and experience herself as rootless and ultimately, melancholy and lost. Large segments of her journal are revealed that are more expository than emotive or introspective. While her feelings of oppression are revealed, the tone of the journal keeps readers at a distance from a true understanding of a heinous act that Alisa commits early on in the novel.

    Ultimately, my reading experience was mixed. On one hand, this author writes beautifully and lyrically, introducing ancestral myth and ritual into her narrative and composing passages that are memorable, mesmerizing, and profound. On the other, there are narrative choices (such as the journal) that, for me, broke up the spell that was being created and not fully allowing me to immerse into the story. I thank BookBrowse and Harper Via for enabling me to be an early reader in exchange for an honest review.

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