In 1989, South Africa is on the brink of dramatic change. Oblivious and unaffected, Renee Pretorius, daughter of strict Afrikaans parents, leaves her beloved Karoo farm in order to pursue her dream to study ballet at the University of Cape Town. Cape Town tells of Renee's journey of awakening in strife-torn South Africa's mother city in the year before Mandela's release. IIn 1989, South Africa is on the brink of dramatic change. Oblivious and unaffected, Renee Pretorius, daughter of strict Afrikaans parents, leaves her beloved Karoo farm in order to pursue her dream to study ballet at the University of Cape Town. Cape Town tells of Renee's journey of awakening in strife-torn South Africa's mother city in the year before Mandela's release. It conveys the atmosphere and climate, both political and social, of an extraordinary era....
|Number of Pages||:||326 Pages|
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Cape Town Reviews
A beautifully written novel about a teen from a conservative Afrikaans family in pre-Mandela South Africa.Renee convinces her parents into letting her leave their isolated rural community in order to study ballet in the big city -- Cape Town.When she arrives as a student at the University of Cape Town, Renee is initially confident in the Afrikaans' God-given right to govern, and that giving votes to Blacks would be a disaster. Her existence up to this point has been so isolated that she's never shared an activity with Black or Coloured (ie mixed race) individuals, unless they were servants.On campus, the first person who befriends her is Dion, a Coloured dancer who is openly gay, and she quickly falls in love with Andy, who is not only English (considered the devil by her Afrikaans father) but is a human rights activist.Add to the mix Renee's brother Etienne, who is an undercover agent for the Afrikaans controlled police-state.Hammond does a great job in showing the incremental change in Renee's attitude to the people and politics around her, and as Renee changes, the stakes get higher, with riots and violence all around. In her personal life, she's playing a double game, keeping her relationship with Andy a secret from her parents and from her guardian aunt. It all comes to a head in a page turning way.Brenda Hammond's writing is visual and sensual, which is oh so appropriate for a novel about ballet and about an exotic local. A great read.
The story itself is excellent. This takes place in South Africa of 1989, the era of apartheid. Renee leaves her farm life for the big city to study ballet and there is confronted with ideas about equality and injustice which she had never before entertained in her staid Dutch upbringing. This would raise many questions in readers' minds and would be an excellent venue for contrasting the racism of the Southern United States, which I believe was actually based on the apartheid system. It may also compare well with Canada's reserves and all of those inherent problems.
Although this book is classified as teen fiction, I found it to be a compelling story of the experiences of a young Afrikaans farm girl as she arrives at the liberal University of Cape Town and has her eyes opened to the realities and horrors of the 1980's apartheid era.I found it to be a well researched, gripping story which I read in two sessions. In my opinion it really captured the essence of those traumatic days in South Africa.
Renee Pretorius is an Afrikaans meisie from a farm in the Karoo. I was an English farm girl from the Transvaal. Renee was a ballerina, I rode horses. And, like Renee, I came late to the struggle, my awareness growing after I left home and went to university. Renee went to Cape Town, I went to Wits. Her family were conservatives, mine were liberal and yet I could relate to her naiveté; so many of us, at that age, at that time, were sheltered and unaware. The novel is beautifully penned, every detail is rich, accurate and atmospheric, with the ending a political and personal triumph.I would not constrain this book to young adult readers but would say that anybody interested in South Africa or the dynamics of growing up within that kind of world, should pick it up and read it.
Good book about apartheid but more suited for all older students in high school. Young girl learns to think for herself instead of listening to the way of the Afrikans - where the men decide what happens to the family.