Kathleen Jones's Reviews > Now Is the Time for Running

Now Is the Time for Running by Michael  Williams
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's review
Feb 26, 2012

really liked it
Read in February, 2012

Now is the time for running
by Michael Williams
Young Adult Fiction

Deo and Innocent live in a village in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Times are hard. Their mother is a single parent, struggling to bring them up against a background of spiraling inflation and food shortages. Deo goes to school and tries to look after his brain-damaged brother. Their big pleasure is playing football. But one day their lives change.

'The game is 2-2 when the soldiers come in their jeeps down the path to Gutu.
Jani shouts at me "Kick, Deo, kick."
I catch the ball between my foot and the earth and point. "The soldiers are coming," I say. The boys stop playing. They turn to look at where I'm pointing.'

Within hours Deo and Innocent are running for their lives, wading the crocodile infested Limpopo river, crawling under game fences, hiding in lorry compartments, in order to get to South Africa - the land of freedom, where they believe their father lives. Deo has his football, stuffed with almost worthless Zimbabwean currency, but, thanks to the kindness of strangers, it's just enough to get them over the border.

Deo expects everything to be better in a new, free, country. But in South Africa they are refugees, without papers, exploited as slave labour, living on the streets or hiding under bridges. And all this time Deo is trying to protect Innocent, who has only a limited understanding of what's going on, from harm.

This is a gritty book that seeks to show the reality of life in the third world, living under brutal dictators, or as stateless refugees. The book never loses hope. Deo is saved by street football and the ending is both realistic and optimistic. No fairy-tale endings here - expect to shed a few tears along the way. Now is the Time for Running was originally published in South Africa as 'The Billion Dollar Football' and it's one of 2012's must-reads.

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