BookBrowse Reviews Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Out of Shadows

by Jason Wallace

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace X
Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2011, 282 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2011, 282 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


An important novel about racism and the choices we make; for young adults and older

I have not read a book that has disturbed me this much in a long time. It pulls no punches, refuses to romanticize a very complicated time and place, and lays unfathomable questions at the reader's feet. The fact that Out of Shadows is built on the foundation of debut author Jason Wallace's own experiences in a post-civil war Zimbabwe boarding school makes the book all the more disturbing.

And this is a good thing. A great thing. Because Jason Wallace has created a powerful and important story here about a very specific country and its very specific and significant problems - a story that ultimately transcends that specificity and resonates with many people's hearts in all kinds of landscapes.

The history is critical to understand though; Out of Shadows begins in 1983, a few years after the civil war in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), and Robert Mugabe is Prime Minister. Life as everyone knows it is over: white people are no longer in power, and a new way of life is emerging. Black Africans feel the promise of equality for the first time. But the war was brutal, and Robert Mugabe is brutal too, and no one - neither white nor black - feels settled. The violence is far from over.

Robert Jacklin is a British ex-patriot, now enrolled in a prestigious boarding school. So for him, life as he knows it is over too. Home is gone and his parents are gone. The school, as per orders from the new government, has allowed a handful of black students through its gates, and early in the book, Robert befriends one of these boys. In fact, they vow to watch over one another and to keep an eye out for a particular racist bully who is in their class. "'Like brothers?' Robert asks. 'Ja... like brothers,' says the boy." At this point in the story, Out of Shadows appears to be about this bond. It seems to be about how racism is wrong, and, perhaps, how Robert, an outsider, will stand up for what is right. But then Robert has a change of heart, and the book changes direction... toward a much foggier, murkier, dangerous landscape. The bully begins to befriend Robert. And although Robert is afraid of him, he also finds himself drawn to the boy, even sympathizing with him - after all, they have both lost their homes.

This is what is what makes Out of Shadows so disturbing. And this is what Jason Wallace does so incredibly well. Nothing is simple. No one is perfectly right, or perfectly wrong. And when Robert finds himself in the middle of something horrific, he must wrestle with complicated and confusing questions - questions whose answers are a matter of life and death. He is forced to grow up fast, and because Jason Wallace has crafted such an engaging, detailed, courageous story, the reader ends up wrestling with the very same questions, and growing up a bit more too.

Out of Shadows is not a book for particularly young readers, or readers who find violence uncomfortable or frightening to read about. But for older teens (and up), this is an important, honest and compelling book.

Reviewed by Tamara Smith

This review is from the April 20, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.