Summary and book reviews of Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace

Out of Shadows

by Jason Wallace

Out of Shadows
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

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Book Summary

A compelling, thought-provoking novel about race, bullying and the need to belong, set in Africa.

Twelve-year-old Robert Jacklin comes face-to-face with bigotry, racism, and brutality when he is uprooted from England and moves to Zimbabwe with his family.

Robert's father accepts a job at the British Embassy in Zimbabwe, and Robert is enrolled in one of the country's most elite boys' boarding schools. Newly integrated, the school is a microcosm of the horrible problems faced by the struggling new country in the wake of a bloody civil war. The white boys want their old country back; they torment the black Africans and wreak havoc among themselves. Robert must make careful alliances. Joining the hostile white boys will protect him from the worst brutality, but it will also make him complicit in their crimes. Robert's decision to join the ranks of the more powerful has a devastating effect on his conscience and emerging manhood.

Zimbabwe
1983
ONE

Go ahead, shoot, I thought, because I was thirteen and desperate and anything, absolutely anything, was better than the fate to which my parents were leading me.

The policeman sat astride his growling motorbike, one hand on his holster, anonymous behind shades. He was one of the outriders for the new prime minister’s motorcade, signaling for cars to get off the road. If drivers didn’t stop quickly enough he was entitled to shoot. If they didn’t move right off the tarmac, he could shoot. If they did stop but the policeman thought the passengers inside looked shifty or saw them messing around, he’d shoot. He was nothing like the policemen back home.

Home, I thought. An old ache swelled in my stomach. England. Britain. So far away. For me, this Africa was another world, and as we sat there watching the rider watch us, Britain felt farther away than ever.

I sighed.

My father completely misinterpreted it and tutted as he showed me his...

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  • award image

    Costa Book Awards
    2010

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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-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.   (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).

Full Review Members Only (532 words).

Media Reviews

Booklist

The story’s climax is over the top, but the fast-paced school drama, with issues about guilt, survival, and responsibility, will pull older teens, and adults, too

School Library Journal

Starred Review. This thought-provoking narrative offers teens a window into a distinctive time and place in history that is likely to be unfamiliar to most of them.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred review. In its portrayal of race relations in a wounded country as well as of the ugly power dynamics of a community of adolescent boys, this novel excels... Ages 14+.

The Guardian

Even for an age group that prizes bleakness, this is a harrowing read, with no punches pulled on excessive profanity or shocking violence. This is certainly not a book for younger readers, but even with its rough edges, it's a powerful, devastating read for older teens.

Author Blurb Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief
Honest, brave, and devastating - more than just memorable. It's impossible to look away.

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Beyond the Book

All About Jason Wallace
Here is a short story about perseverance: Out of Shadows was rejected by agents and editors one hundred times before Jason Wallace's current publishing house bought it. One hundred times. And it just won the very prestigious Costa Children's Book of the Year Award (formerly the Whitbread Award). Thank goodness Jason didn't give up trying... or give up hope.

Jason Wallace Born in Cheltenham, England in 1969, Jason Wallace is related to J. R. R. Tolkien and is a descendant of one of the first International English cricketers and also of a famous Victorian circus owner named "Lord" George Sanger. Jason lived in south-west London during the early years of his childhood with his mother, but at age 12, when his mother ...

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