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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  5 reviews
Embrace is the story of the awakening of Karl De Man, a thirteen-year-old student at the Berg, an exclusive academy for boys in South Africa in the 1970s. The events of Karl's school life are interwoven with memories from his childhood and first years at the Berg, as he falls in love with both his best friend and his choirmaster. ...more
Paperback, 726 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Little, Brown Book Group
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Ingrid Turner
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was well written, although I felt like this novel could have been two books: one a memoir of a childhood in South Africa and one about Karl's sexual awakening. I found 'The Smell of Apples' fascinating, so was looking forward to 'Embrace' although the length put me off for a while. I enjoyed reading a novel set in areas familiar to me growing up: Maritzburg, Matubatuba, Mfolozi, Charters, St Lucia etc. This novel gives an interesting account of what it was like to grow up in South Africa in ...more
Apr 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Three stars means I liked the book. But I don't like Mark Behr. I'll get to that.

The blurb at the top of this pager gives a pretty good background to the story: pre-adolescent/adolescent boy growing up in South Africa under apartheid, coming to terms with his gay-ness in a deeply repressive society. Good strong subject. The psychology is convincing, the picture of South African society likewise, the prose fluent and even poetic.

Yet it failed to quite convince me. It read, far too often, like a
Stephen Hayes
A book about a 13-year-old boy in Standard 6 (Grade 8) in the Drakensberg Boys Choir School.

It's a long book (over 700 pages) and written partly in "stream of consciousness" style. It follows Karl De Man though his school year, but it also jumps back to his memories of earlier events in his life, from his earliest childhood.

The novel is semi-autobiographical, as the protagonist, like Behr himself, was born in Tanganyika (before it united with Zanzibar to become the United Republic of Tanzania).
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Embrace is an incredibly vivid and enthralling novel, for all that its subject matter sometimes makes it difficult to read. It follows Karl, a young boy in South Africa in the 1970s, as he slowly becomes aware of not just his own sexuality, but also of the racial tensions in the world around him. Tightly constructed, it builds to a very tense conclusion that left me breathless.
Mary Fitzpatrick
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it from start but was a tad disappointed with the quick ending which left me with a feeling there was more to tell.
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