We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo

We need new namesREAD FOR BOOKERTHON

Ten-year-old Darling escapes Zimbabwe for America

❖ This novel is a coming-of-age story about Darling, a ten year old living in Zimbabwe. She is orphaned after her mother leaves to work at the border and her father abandons the family for a life in South Africa, and later contracts AIDS.

On her own she has the usual teenage drama to deal with along with the adversity of living in poverty without anyone to care for her. She struggles with the aftermath of the country’s unrest and this forces her to question what path her own life will take.

There is a cast of unique characters alongside Darling, including Chipo, a ten year old pregnant to her grandfather, Godknows, Shbo & Stina. The group’s antics are both loveable and relatable and highly affecting, such as when the group comes across a body hanging from a tree.

Mid way through the book Darling has had enough of the struggles of poverty and conflict and she escapes to America, living with her Aunt Fostalina in Michigan. To adapt to life in the US, she distances herself from her connections and memories of Zimbabwe, but does experience guilt for abandoning her country. This is the books main premise, about the cultural differences between the two countries, their daily lives, their traditions, their beliefs and how no two people have the same experience when undergoing a cultural change.

Look at the children of the land leaving in droves, leaving their own land with bleeding wounds on their bodies and shock on their faces and blood in their hearts and hunger in their stomachs and grief in their footsteps. Leaving their mothers and fathers and children behind, leaving their umbilical cords underneath the soil, leaving the bones of their ancestors in the earth, leaving everything that makes them who and what they are, leaving because it is no longer possible to stay. They will never be the same again because you cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same.

“Despite being a story of Zimbabwe’s trauma and desperation, and believe us there are some harrowing accounts in these pages – it is the cast of lovable characters that offsets the sorrow and at the end of the day what makes it so powerful. We both really enjoyed this but do warn, be prepared to go on an emotional rollercoaster.

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Published 2013
Vintage
304 pages

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