Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais follows the dual timelines of nine-year-old Robin, a white girl living in South Africa and Beauty, a Xhosa woman, as their lives intersect after the Soweto uprisings.
Robin is left devastated after everyone she knows is suddenly gone at a pivotal point in her life when all she longs for is belonging. Beauty receives warning that her daughter may be in danger and travels to the city to try and protect her. Beauty ends up looking after Robin while her aunt Edith is working as a flight attendant and Beauty continues to search for her daughter. Robin, desperate for human connection grows incredibly attached to Beauty and they form a bond that breaks the barriers of age, race and class.
I really enjoyed this one. Marais has a way of storytelling that instantly transports you to that time period. I actually didn’t know a ton about this time and found myself Googling for a few hours after finishing this book trying to learn more. This one definitely broke my heart a couple times as I fell for Robin and Beauty both and the devastating decisions they both had to make. Their relationship was special to watch and it was nice to read from a child’s point of view who sees clearly and questions the reasonings for the racial and social injustices occurring during that time period. For lovers of historical fiction that want to feel transported to South Africa, grab a copy of Hum today!