Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Book Review of The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini
Irene Sabatini brings her own memories of growing up in Zimbabwe vividly to life in this sweeping and moving story about two people whose lives become inseparable from the turmoil around them.
In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the son of Lindiwe Bishop's white neighbor, seventeen-year-old Ian McKenzie, is arrested for a terrible crime. A year later Ian returns home, the charges against him dropped. He is brash and boisterous, full of charm and swagger, and fascinating to fifteen-year-old Lindiwe. She accepts a ride from him one day, despite her mother's warnings, and grows between them-becoming stronger and stronger in a world that wants nothing more to divide them. A secret that Lindiwe keeps hidden, and which Ian discovers years later, ensures that their lives will be irrevocably entwined as their country crumbles around them.
The Boy Next Door is an astonishing, brilliant debut novel about what it means to witness, to change, to love, and to remain whole when the world outside is falling apart.
The Boy Next Door, like many good stories, is difficult to characterize. The story of Lindiwe is a coming of age story and a love story. But since begins in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, The Boy Next Door gives us unique insight into the political upheaval and violence that accompanied those early years of independence from British rule.
Lindiwe and Ian McKenzie are both interesting and sympathetic characters in their own right, but the extraordinary circumstances that they find themselves in makes The Boy Next Door an engrossing and memorable read. Irene Sabatini has come up with a brilliant debut novel and I look forward to reading her next work.
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 8, 2009), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
About the Author, from the author's website:
Irene Sabatini was born in Hwange, a coal mining town in southwest Zimbabwe and grew up in Bulawayo. She studied psychology at the University of Zimbabwe and then took a Masters at the Institute of Education in London. Irene Sabatini has followed a varied and international path: from teacher in Bogota, to researcher in the Caribbean, editor in Harare and author in Geneva. Visit her website at http://www.irenesabatini.com/index.html.
Thank you so much to Miriam and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity! I would not have discovered this book on my own and am very glad that I did.