Tuesday, 10 March 2015

167. Book Review - Salt & Honey by Candi Miller

Charity shops are one of my favourite places to find a new book. Over the years, I've found - and read - so many amazing second hand books, costing just a fraction of their usual price, in charity shops. Knowing that the money you spend goes to a great cause, whilst the original money spent initially buying the book brand new has gone to the author, is also a great motivator to go and buy a big wad of books at a time. This is what I always do.
I spotted Salt & Honey in a charity shop where my Grandma lives and, drawn in by the colourful cover (what can I say, I'm a sucker for bright colours!) and the exciting blurb, I decided to give Candi Miller a go for the first time.

Books based in different countries, different eras and around controversial or poignant social issues always interest me, which is one of the reasons that I thought Salt & Honey sounded so right for me.
Set during the apartheid, Salt & Honey tells the story of Koba, a young girl, daughter of a Kalahari bushman, who is torn away from her family during a hunting trip that goes tragically wrong. Koba is sent to live with a white, farming family who plan to return her to her tribe once they raise the money for the epic journey. 
Miller writes so beautifully and sensitively of love, family and heritage, and this book is so different to anything I have ever read. The relationship between Koba and Mannie, the white families teenage son, is incredibly honest and relatable to young adults but without all the cliches and fairy tale endings. 

The portrayal of the two groups of people - the Kalahari tribesmen and the white settlers - is interesting and, I would imagine, fairly accurate but I can't help that think that the nature of the Kalahari tribes people were somewhat romanticised, as I think usually happens in novels that tell the story of a 'faraway land' and its people.

The use of Afrikaans dialect intrigued me, although I wish that I had known that there was a glossary at the end of the book before I started reading,  which included the definitions of these words, as I got about halfway through before I noticed it. 
The book isn't particularly fast-paced and it is spanned over several years, as we see Koba grow from a child into a young woman, but at no point does the narrative seem unnecessary or irrelevant. 

This is a highly emotive and honest account of what life and love entailed during the apartheid, and I'd recommend it to anybody with an interest in social history or a romantic story, but with a twist.

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