Tag Archives: Irma Joubert

If You Liked Child of The River . . .

29 Sep

By The Book read Child of The River by Irma Joubert in September. An excellent book, the novel explored the real life results of Apartheid in South Africa. If you liked this novel and want to explore more like it, then check out the following books. All are well-written glimpses into life in South Africa.

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton.

Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.

 

 

 

The Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert. 

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families — so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress (ANC) movement against apartheid, were murdered, 16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm.

When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge, or forgiveness and selfless love.

Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.

The Road to Home by Vanessa Del Fabbro

South African journalist Monica Brunetti had it all — promising career, loving family, marriage-minded boyfriend. Then a life-changing encounter landed her in a hospital bed next to gregarious Ella Nkhoma, whose wit and caring challenged Monica’s worldview. Their remarkable friendship would lead Monica far from the gated white suburbs, and toward a parting that left both women transformed–and Monica the mother of two sons.

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday — Characters with A Lot of Growing Up to Do AKA Coming-of-Age Books

26 Sep

This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish have challenged bloggers to list Books That Feature Characters ____ (culturally diverse characters, characters with mental illness, those who play sports, etc.). Because I really want to spotlight coming-of-age novels, I have titled this week’s list Characters with A Lot of Growing Up to Do. I just finished a really great novel, Child of The River by Irma Joubert, and it reminded me of other excellent coming-of-age stories. While there are some great classics– A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Chosen, etc. — I wanted to share some that you may be unfamiliar with. Hope you enjoy my list, even if I did have to finagle the challenge just a bit. 😉

 

Top Coming of Age Novels

 

Child of The River by Irma Joubert

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune — are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her — dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her — the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland — she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life — and every life — matters.

The Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

The One True Love of Alice Ann by Eva Marie Everson

Living in rural Georgia in 1941, sixteen-year-old Alice-Ann has her heart set on her brother’s friend Mack; despite their five-year age gap, Alice-Ann knows she can make Mack see her for the woman she’ll become. But when they receive news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Mack decides to enlist, Alice-Ann realizes she must declare her love before he leaves.

Though promising to write, Mack leaves without confirmation that her love is returned. But Alice-Ann is determined to wear the wedding dress her maiden aunt never had a chance to wear ― having lost her fiancé in the Great War. As their correspondence continues over the next three years, Mack and Alice-Ann are drawn closer together. But then Mack’s letters cease altogether, leaving Alice-Ann to fear history repeating itself.

Dreading the war will leave her with a beautiful dress and no happily ever after, Alice-Ann fills her days with work and caring for her best friend’s war-torn brother, Carlton. As time passes and their friendship develops into something more, Alice-Ann wonders if she’ll ever be prepared to say good-bye to her one true love and embrace the future God has in store with a newfound love. Or will a sudden call from overseas change everything?

 The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

The Runaway by Claire Wong

Shortly before her eighteenth birthday, Rhiannon Morgan runs away from the remote Welsh village of Llandymna. Camping out in Dyrys Woods, she starts to make a new life for herself. In the woods she finds space for her active imagination — weaving together the stories she loves and memories of her past, including the mother she lost thirteen years ago.

Back in the village, Rhiannon’s disappearance triggers a series of events that uncover the cracks in Llandymna’s quiet surface. Relationships become frayed as a young police officer is forced to investigate his neighbors, and the village’s elderly storyteller hints at a secret that the older generation has kept for decades. But as painful as the village’s past may be, it may hold the key for hope in the present . . . .

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock

Stunning coming-of-age drama set during the Great Depression and Prohibition

When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.

 Eve can’t wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people,” not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven,” Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle’s lodge is anything but what it seems.

When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?

Son of A Soldier by Aiken A. Brown

Son of a Soldier is the powerful story of how God used one unlikely, country girl to change the course of history. It seemed impossible to believe that an eighteen-year-old girl from the middle-of-nowhere, Tennessee would have any real significance in the history of our nation…that is until God chose her to make a Godly man out of a flawed, military hero’s stubborn son.

Hailey was a small town, farm girl who had never left her home state of Tennessee. She was a naïve tomboy who possessed an unassuming charm, the power of which she could not comprehend.

Grant was a rebellious Army brat who had seen the world. Glib, sarcastic and self-destructive, he was a loner lost in a world he had never felt he fit into.

They seemingly had little in common, but when two hearts collided, two worlds became one; while Hailey embarks on a beautiful journey of self-discovery in this unique coming-of-age story, Grant travels a winding, dirt road that helps him rediscover a lost innocence and discover a renewed purpose.

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

A boy coming of age in a time of war . . .
the love that inspires him to survive.

For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows— his frail, troubled mother.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

 

What are some of your favorite coming-of-age novels?

 

 

 

Book Review: Child of The River

25 Sep

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune — are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her — dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her — the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland — she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life — and every life — matters.

A graduate of the University of Pretoria, Irma Joubert was a high school teacher for 35 years before retiring in 2004 to focus on her writing. The following year, while working as a freelance journalist, she was the recipient of the Media24 award for Specialist Journalist of the Year and was a finalist in the Mondi journalism awards.

Joubert’s current literary focus is on historical novels. Her Tussen stasies trilogy, consisting of Ver wink die SuiderkruisTussen stasies en Tolbos, together with her Pontenilo trilogy: Anderkant PonteniloPérsomi, and Kronkelpad, have all been translated into Dutch, and have all featured among the Top 10 best sellers on publication.

Tussen stasies has been translated into German and in 2015 was published in English by US publisher Harper Collins under the title The Girl from the Train. She is currently writing the second book in her third trilogy. (from Wikipedia)

 

My Impressions:

Child of The River by Irma Joubert is one of the best novels I have ever read, and when I found that a second novel had been translated into English, I was excited to introduce this talented author to my book club. Child of The River again transports the reader to South Africa, this time spanning 30 years beginning in the pre-WWII years. Beautifully written, this novel is a hard book to read — abuse, prejudice, and nationalized separation of races — but has an underlying theme of hope in the face of injustice. My book club liked the book and appreciated the glimpse into a bygone time and foreign land.

Persomi is a the daughter of a bywoner or sharecropper in the bushveld of South Africa. She looks on the lives of real people with the dream of one day being part of their world. A strong girl becomes a determined woman who faces head-on the unjust treatment and unfair laws of her country.

The story is filled with compelling and complex characters, some we loved, others not so much. Women as portrayed in the novel are especially irritating, and there were a few we wished we could have shaken! The men are treated a bit more kindly with a few earning our admiration. Persomi is the main character, and we loved her sense of right and wrong, her desire to protect the underdog, and her gentle, yet firm manner in dealing with hard situations. There is also a love story that we loved, hated, and ultimately rejoiced in. The novel is published by Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson, and while it did not have an overt faith message, it was heavily influenced by the author’s Christian worldview.

My book club and I really liked Child of The River, and welcome further translations of Joubert’s novels.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

September Book Club Selections

1 Sep

Big news this month!

First, By The Book is celebrating its 15th Anniversary! Woo hoo! We will be reading a novel by South African author, Irma Joubert, titled Child of The River. I read and loved The Girl from The Train and am excited to dig into this book.

Second, Page Turners is combining Bible study and book club for the next three months in what we are calling The Faith And Fiction Study. In September we are studying the story of Samson and Delilah from Judges 13-16 and reading Delilah: Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt. I am very much looking forward to this combo of my two favorite things — fiction and the Bible.

Check out both of our selections!

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune—are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her—dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her—the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland—she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life — and every life — matters.

The English language publication of Child of the River solidifies Irma Joubert as a unique and powerful voice in historical fiction.

 

Life is not easy in Philistia, especially not for a woman and child alone. When beautiful, wounded Delilah finds herself begging for food to survive, she resolves that she will find a way to defeat all the men who have taken advantage of her. She will overcome the roadblocks life has set before her, and she will find riches and victory for herself.

When she meets a legendary man called Samson, she senses that in him lies the means for her victory. By winning, seducing, and betraying the hero of the Hebrews, she will attain a position of national prominence. After all, she is beautiful, she is charming, and she is smart. No man, not even a supernaturally gifted strongman, can best her in a war of wits.

TOP 10 Tuesday — Around The World in Books!

19 Jul

This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are focusing on Books Set Outside The United States. To find out all the great books bloggers are recommending, click HERE.

toptentuesday

 

I’m not much of a traveler, but I have loved the places I visited in books! Because there are so many great books set outside of the US, I have included many more than 10, 25 in fact. Divided by geographic location, my list includes books set within the last 100 years so that you can easily see where you are visiting! Have fun exploring the world!

Around The World in Books

The Americas

CanadaThe Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan.

MexicoMore Than Conquerors by Kathi Macias 

NicaraguaWater from My Heart by Charles Martin

51EsITs4nXL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_517owNW3fgL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Unknown

Europe

EnglandThe Inheritance by Michael Phillips

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

Secrets of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

FranceDefy The Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot

GreeceThe Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

Netherlands Snow on The Tulips by Liz Tolsma

Ukraine Beyond The Rapids by Evelyn Puerto

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

the-inheritance-249x3843832311unknown2

4432133594722113931

snowtulips-e137887533796451vQUeF0LGL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_41e1xxakil-_sx322_bo1204203200_

Africa

AlgeriaTwo Destinies by Elizabeth Musser

South AfricaThe Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

SudanSide by Side by Jana Kelley

405014_w18551yc7vat3el-_sx326_bo1204203200_251bitO2972L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_sidebyside300dpi-662x1024

The Middle East 

AfghanistanFarewell, Four Waters by Kate McCord

Saudia Arabia People of The Book by Kathi Macias

41206051RTwT6jwHL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_

Asia

ChinaCity of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

Red Ink by Kathi Macias 

Indonesia (Dutch East Indies)Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

North KoreaBeloved Daughter by Alana Terry

The PhilippinesRemember The Lilies by Liz Tolsma

VietnamYesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West

51rEeUeAfUL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_51Ez4gAOHaL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_unknown6

9831123_orig68914151-hMRTbsWL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

Australia 

Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

405800_w185

Where do you want to travel?

 

Book Review: The Girl from The Train

31 Dec

51yc7VAt3eL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

irma-joubertIrma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years. This experience has stood her in good stead when it comes to doing extensive research for her historical novels. She writes with empathy and a deep insight into personal relationships. She and her husband live in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

 

My Impressions:

It is funny that the best book of 2015, is the last book that I completed this year. Irma Joubert’s novel, The Girl from The Train (not to be confused with any of the other girl/train books), is the only one of her books to be translated into English from her native Afrikaans. I am hoping that it will not be the last because this book has it all — a beautiful writing style, characters that capture the heart and descriptions that put the reader in the midst of the story. From war torn Poland to the wilds of the South African bushvelt, Joubert takes the reader on a tour through the emotional aftermath of trauma and the hope of new life. Along the way, the characters struggle to retain their identity in their quest to survive.

I didn’t make a lot of notes as I read The Girl from The Train. I was too immersed in the story to pull myself away. I also found myself bleary eyed from extensive reading periods. You will find it hard to put down. I often find that the books that affect me the most are the hardest to review. Words fail me. Let me just say that this book is a must read and perfect for book discussion groups. It also gets a Very Highly Recommended designation from me, something that only a handful of books merit.

So, did you get some book money for Christmas? Then make sure you include The Girl from The Train in your purchases.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE. The Kindle version is currently $1.99!!

(Thanks to Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)