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Book Bites: 5 July 2015

God Help the ChildGod Help the Child
Toni Morrison (Chatto and Windus)
****
Book buff
I’ve always loved Toni Morrison’s ability to delve into the inner workings of her characters. She’s done that again here with Sweetness and Bride. After giving birth to a child so dark she’s actually blue-black, Sweetness develops into an unloving mother to Bride. It’s her way of preparing her child for the hardships life in her shade of skin will bring. Her approach has a severe impact on Bride’s life as an adult – and on those who pay a steep price for her seeking love. A beautiful book that investigates how our childhood truly impacts who we are as adults.
- Bongiwe Tshiqi @BongiweTshiqi

The Mirror World of Melody BlackThe Mirror World of Melody Black
Gavin Extence (Hodder & Stoughton)
****
Book buff
When Abigail Williams finds the dead body of her neighbour, Simon, in his London apartment her world becomes a series of topsy-turvy mishaps: a haphazard interview with a world-famous poet, a disastrous dinner with her father and his French girlfriend, and an alarming amount of credit card debt. What her family and friends don’t understand is that her mania is the most beautiful part of her bipolar life. Abby decides to run away before brilliance becomes the blues. A thoughtful read without the usual clichés that surround stories about mental illness.
- Annetjie van Wynegaard @Annetjievw

The A-Z of You and MeThe A-Z Of You And Me
James Hannah (Doubleday)
***
Book fling
There’s not a lot of aspirational material in this unconventional love story. Ivo is a depressed, insecure diabetic who spends the entire book in a hospice sickbed. His milieu is a middle-class England in which binge-living (booze, drugs and more) is the norm. Relationships are superficial. Subverting that last rule, via Ivo’s relationship with Mia, is the book’s saving grace. The mechanism Hannah uses to tell his story – Ivo working his way alphabetically through his body parts and their links to chapters in his past – is clever and, mostly, satisfying.
- Bruce Dennill @broosdennill

The FetchThe Fetch
Finuala Dowling (Kwela Books)
****
Book buff
Finuala Dowling keeps her canvases small, working with a handful of characters we come inevitably to care about. Or not, in the case of the maddening narcissist Chas at the centre of The Fetch, and the inhabitants of Slangkop in orbit around his Big House. Among them are the besotted Nina, the tawdry Dolly, the environmentalist William, and Fundiswa, a nurse who worked at the World Health Organisation and likes to drop “When I was in Geneva…” at every chance. When Dolly abandons her small son Oro in Slangkop, it will take the village to raise the child. Delightful.
- Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

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