Anna's Reviews > The Other Side of Truth

The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo
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Jul 17, 09

bookshelves: africa, fiction, young-adult, read-in-2009, historical
Read in July, 2009

Okay, so this novel was not at all like I expected (perhaps I should have read the flap more carefully) but it was still really good. It’s a surprisingly complicated and engaging story about a girl named Sade and her brother Femi who live in Nigeria but have to leave suddenly after their mother is killed by the government. Their father is a controversial journalist who is not afraid to speak the truth and, therefore, is not well-liked by the government. They meant to shoot him but killed mama accidentally and dad is worried they’ll go over the kids next so they have to flee. Dad arranges for them to be smuggled to London, where his brother lives.

Anyway, yes, this is technically a young adult novel but I struggled to view it that way while I was reading. The issues are actually really complex and you have to have a decent grasp on Nigerian history and politics as well as colonization and the relationship that England and Nigeria have in this novel. It’s not talked about explicitly but unless you are aware of certain things, I don’t think the novel would make a lot of sense.

I thought the story felt very realistic overall and Beverly Naidoo was able to convey how the characters felt quite well. I thought it was interesting that a lot of the story comprised of the students’ experiences at school. This part of the novel felt very YA to me but at the same time it’s important for us to realize that immigrants (refugees in particular) face a lot of challenges when they arrive in a new country. They have to get used to the customs, often the language (although Sade already spoke English in this novel), and they have to deal with peer pressure and fitting in.

Other parts, though, all of the dealings with Mama Appiah, Auntie Gracie, their father (in prison), the immigration lawyer, and others all felt way too mature for some younger readers. I did feel like the ending was a bit too optimistic for my liking (again, very YA) but I was glad it turned out the way it did.

I really liked that African proverbs were mixed into much of the story. I think proverbs are wonderful, especially for young adults who need to sort of infer their deeper meaning.

I would have liked for there to be a greater focus on Nigerian culture in this book and I realize now that I can’t use it for the purpose that I had intended (African culture-themed book clubs) but I still think this is a great book that I’m sure I’ll recommend to some people. I’m just not sure yet who.
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Reading Progress

07/17/2009 page 126
50.0% "Very interesting but I don't think I'd hand this to a kid and say, "read it.""

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