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This Thing Called The Future

VOYA Magazine

"Magic and science are woven together in this often stark story of AIDS and unrelenting poverty. Khosi, a fourteen-year-old South African girl, matures as the result of the strife she faces on a daily basis. She lives with her younger sister and grandmother while her mother works far away as a teacher. More than once during the day, the bells toll to announce another death, most often from AIDS. Walking to the store is treacherous because of a drunken man trying to grab and rape her; virgins are prime targets because they do not carry the disease. Khosi is frightened of many things but especially what is making her mother cough up blood. Her education and love of science tells her that her mother should see a modern doctor. Her culturally-engrained beliefs in witches, curses, dreams, and a traditional Zulu healer vie with this view. This is realistic fiction with a twist of the supernatural. Khosi is grounded in Zulu legends and folk traditions, making the intervention of her ancestors through her dreams believable. The tensions between respecting tradition and honoring one's ancestors and listening to the more modern world and its teachings keep the reader engrossed throughout the novel. Descriptive writing paints the picture of abject poverty, rampant disease, and little hope for a future; yet the reader feels that Khosi will have that elusive future. The scenes of the drunken man attempting capture Khosi to rape her are graphic, and perhaps not for the youngest middle school students."
- Susan Allen, August 10, 2011 

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