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Publisher's Summary

Perfect for fans of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help, a perceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.
Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a 10-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband's death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred...until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin's parents are left dead and Beauty's daughter goes missing.
After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.
Told through Beauty's and Robin's alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum If You Don't Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.
©2017 Bianca Marais (P)2017 Penguin Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Julie W. Capell on 01-29-18

Two narrators make for a great listen

Great audiobook, using two different narrators to represent the two main characters. Being able to hear the story in the alternating voices of the Black African mother, Beauty, who is searching for her daughter, and that of the White African girl, Robin, who has lost her family, made this an extra-special experience. The ending was perfect. I look forward to the next book written by Bianca Marais.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

By Beverley on 01-16-18

Magnificent book about the country I love.

Coming from South Africa, I truly loved and appreciated this wonderful story, which touched my heart and brought back both beautiful and painful memories. While this book highlights the racial discrimination, anti-Semitism and prejudice towards homosexuality that was part of those times, it also highlights the force and power of love that crossed those lines. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, and it is hard to say goodbye to them. This book brought me to both laughter and tears. Thank you for this fantastic story about our beautiful rainbow nation. I can only hope for a sequel.

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Customer Reviews

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By Cedric on 08-28-17


This book is captivating and tells a very gripping story about SA's troubled past and what is still struggles with in the present!

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