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This Thing Called the Future
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This Thing Called the Future

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  125 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Khosi lives with her beloved grandmother Gogo, her little sister Zi, and her weekend mother in a matchbox house on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In that shantytown, it seems like somebody is dying all the time. Billboards everywhere warn of the disease of the day. Her Gogo goes to a traditional healer when there is trouble, but her mother, who works in a ...more
Hardcover, 202 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Cinco Puntos Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  125 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Medeia Sharif
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received this book for free at a conference many years ago and recently rediscovered it on my shelf. This is a powerhouse of a book about a relatable South African teenager living with a fear of AIDS as it passes through her town, threatening to take her loved ones. Khosi has so many obstacles, as well as unsavory characters thrown her way, yet there's a thread of hope running throughout, because she has the future ahead of her.
Edward Sullivan
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A poignant, realistic story with supernatural elements set in an AIDS-ravaged South Africa shantytown. A beautifully written, honest, engrossing story that provides a window into a fascinating world.
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy, blog
Originally reviewed on my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.

This Thing Called the Future by J.L. Powers is the story of Koshi, a young black South African trying to reconcile and combine the two important halves of her self and her world- both the modern and scientific world that brought biology and Christianity into her life, and the old culture of the Zulu people, believing in the spirits of the ancestors, witches and herbal muthi (medicine).

I admit to knowing very little about Afric
Crystal ✬ Lost in Storyland
I received a copy of This Thing Called the Future first reads giveaway.

Read my review here at Imaginary Reads.

This Thing Called the Future by J.L. Powers is a powerful and moving coming-of-age story about Khosi, a fourteen-year-old girl living in a modern South African shantytown. It seems like someone is dying all the time, and billboards hang everywhere, warning people about AIDS. Many people believe that it is a curse. As a young adolescent, Khosi finds herself attracting unwanted attention
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Khosi, 14, lives with her grandmother and her little sister in a small house in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where the traditional ways of healing often clash with modern medicine. Khosi's grandmother puts her faith in the traditional healer when things go wrong while her mother has no faith in that approach, insisting that modern medicine can cure just about everything. Khosi's mother works in the city, and her visits home are infrequent. But when Khosi realizes that her mother is wasting aw ...more
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
J.L. Powers writes many of her books to "explore social issues involving violence, sexuality, and race." She was inspired by her trip to South Africa, and the people with whom she bonded while there, to write This Thing Called the Future. It concentrates on the mixture of two very different cultures that have become intertwined in this "New South Africa" (which has emerged after the end of apartheid) that consists of traditional Zulu culture and modern technology. Powers wrote This Thing Called ...more
Khosi lives in South Africa with her grandmother and little sister. Her mother works in another town and can only come home on occasion. Times are not good for anyone living in their village. Everyone is poor and death seems to visit nearly every family in the form of AIDS. When Khosi's mother returns home for an extended visit, it is glaringly obvious that she is sick. Very, very sick. She denies that it is anything serious and refuses to visit a doctor. Khosi, with her sister and Baba, goes to ...more
Bethany Miller
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it
I won this through a goodreads giveaway. Looking forward to reading it!

Khosi lives with her mother, little sister, and grandmother in a shantytown on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The AIDS virus is rampant in this area and it seems another neighbor falls victim to it every few days. When Khosi’s mother becomes ill, Khosi is not sure how to help her. She and her grandmother both believe in the old ways, which means going to the sangoma (a traditional healer) for advice and muth
May 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
DNF'd on page 166. Shame, because at 200 pages, I was almost finished with it. I usually don't rate books I DNF, but this is an exception.

Khosi is a typical South African teenager residing in a poor, predominately black township with her little sister, Zi, and her beloved grandmother, Gogo. Her mother works in another township and visits every weekend, her Baba (father) lives in a large nearby city and sees the family even less often. Khosi is a girl with goals and dreams and not that much diff
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Won a copy through First Reads (thank you). Will put up a review once I have received and read the book. 31/05/2011.

This is a riveting read and I found it very difficult to put down. My mother actually read this about a month before I did and she thoroughly enjoyed it as well, saying it was captivating and well written.

This is a very insightful novel covering issues which are at the heart of South Africa today told from the perspective of a teenage girl. Due to the age of the Khosi, the narrator
Rebecca Henderson
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
A glimpse into the life of a 14-year-old South African girl, Khosi, who is trying to figure out what she believes and who she is. She is caught in the struggle between Western thought and African culture, between the ideals of her mother's generation and the traditions of her grandmother's generation. Those traditions and lines of thought are more than just mere philosophy for Khosi -- she is faced with very real situations, including the looming threat of HIV that haunts so many in South Africa ...more
Khosi is living in Africa and doesn't know what kind of future she can have with everyone dying from "the disease of now" though no one discusses it, including her mother. Khosi's mother has spent many weeks and months away from her family because she teaches in a town farther away and tries to send the money home. Khosi hasn't seen her father in a while because he always works in a different town but rarely has enough money to send home.

As her life unfolds for this fourteen year old girl, she'
Harry Brake
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Some stories transport you out of your current life and immediately into a new environment. In J.L. Power's novel, you not only are transported but soak in the customs, beliefs and tragedy that occurs in South Africa, and how those clamor to rise above it all re truly heroes. Able to pull at your soul for solutions at every turn, I am completely impressed with the depth and details that go into being from South Africa. It is amazing, even with the constant visits and connections that J.L. Powers ...more
La La - Everyone's Crazy Aunt
3.5 on my blog. The ending to this story was wobbly. It could have been a solid four stars and maybe even 4.5, but there were not enough specifics to wrap things up. It felt like the story simply unraveled at the end. This is all I can say without being too spoilery. I think it was a decent portayal of life in South Africa for poor black families, but as the author was from the US, I can't say this for certain, and I don't want to take time to do any research. I think this book would have been b ...more
Kay Lee
Apr 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I won this book through the goodreads giveaway. I usually shy away from YA fiction, but this one was unique. It is about a young South African girl living in a shantytown who is constantly bombarded with the pressures of AIDS, morality, and technology vs. traditions. At first it was hard to follow the text while trying to refer to the Zulu glossary in the back, but I liked how it gave a more authentic feel. The reason why I rated this book 3 stars is because it seemed to have no "real plot". I a ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Khosi lives in South Africa, surrounded by billboards about AIDs. One in every four people have HIV, and she is dismayed by the reactions to the disease. When her mother falls ill, she tries to avoid the whispers in church. She is torn between two beliefs. After she believes her neighbor has set a curse on her family, she isn't sure if she should follow the modern or traditional beliefs. Should she become a healer or a nurse? And, how will she ever avoid the drunk man in town who is trying to at ...more
Michelle Walker
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I received this book as part of a goodreads giveaway...thank you! I really enjoyed this book. It is an honest and often heartbreaking story of a young girl growing up in South Africa. We learn that Khosi has many of the same pressures as a typical young adult (boys, college plans), and yet she also lives in a world where AIDS is an epidemic. She struggles with old ways and traditions vs. new thoughts and ideas. It's a gripping story, and one that kept me interested until the end.

I have given it
Khosi lives in South Africa with her little sister, Zi, and her beloved grandmother, Gogo. Her mother lives and works in another town but comes home every weekend to be with her family. Things in South Africa are getting tense, though, with the spread of HIV/AIDS and so many unemployed men around harassing young girls. Khosi has a lot to deal with when she realizes that her mom is really sick, plus a drunken old man who hangs out by the corner store starts harassing her on a regular basis. A bri ...more
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Set in South Africa, told from a teen's perspective as she treads between childhood and maturity. There is a nice blend of traditional custom vs. modernity within the narrator's family. At times, this is a stomach turning read, mostly due to the way young girls are prey to aggressive men, and the rampant spread of AIDS, even amongst married/partnered women and girls. It is sad watching the narrator (who is sweetly innocent and really just a kid) have to navigate through all the terrible situatio ...more
Tracy Michelle
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, read-2011
I recieved a copy through a first-reads giveaway.

This Thing Called The Future is a touching story about a girl growing up in South Africa caught betweeen the old ways of life and the new ways. Powers brings to life Khosi, her family, and friends as they navigate through life in a country plaqued with HIV, or "the disease of these days", in a way that had me drawn to the book wanting to see what would happen to them. She handled the social issues well, making me want to learn more. I'm so glad to
Wendy E.
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Koshi is on the cusp of growing up, not only because she is 14, but also because her mother is ill, she must reconcile science with the "old ways" of her Zulu culture and because she must be strong enough to fight for herself and her family. This is an intriguing look at South Africa, post apartheid, in the throes of "this disease" (HIV) that leaves only the very young and very old unscathed. This is a great read!

Bill Warden
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This was a pretty good book. It was a good telling of a story of HIV / AIDS and how it affects the African communities. It was interesting reading about how the different belief systems play into how the communities believe how things are controlled. I'm really HOPING that Ms. Powers did some homework and those belief systems are accurate.

It's probably worth reading this book to get a good perspective of how this deadly disease has affected the African communities.
Joel Nichols
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
not a bad YA book about modern South Africa and AIDS, but very much a American one meant for Americans, so there's a lot of dignity, quiet pride, etc., and so I ended up questioning the people and situations a lot. I might have liked this more if I hadn't just read a couple of novels set in contemporary SA and by South Africans....
This well-written story of AIDS in Africa is interwoven with the plot of a young girl trying to merge her South African culture with her mother's ideas of leading a modern life. Although the AIDS storyline is important and undertold, I found it slow and boring. It took me three weeks to get through this 200 page book.
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was excellent and it always held my interest. I did not know too much about life in South Africa before reading this book. I recommend that teenagers and adults in America should read this book and realize how much easier life is here compared to the life of the young girl in "This Thing Called the Future." I received this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
this one was a lot like "between sisters" which i read last year -- but better written. however, i wasn't the biggest fan of either book. this one was still predictable (dad having another girlfriend, mom getting aids, mom stealing from neighbor, friend getting aids... it's all too expected.)
Chelsea Woolsey
Aug 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I thought this was a pretty good read. Couldn't put it down, and it wasn't really what I expected. Honestly thought it was going to be a racially specific audience book, but it's an excellent book for anyone:)
There's no forward momentum in the story, but there's a lot of talking about what COULD make the story move forward. never does. Nothing compelling here, despite having elements that could push it forward and make it so.
This was a very powerful book. JL Powers did a fantastic job of allowing the reader a glimpse into the very challenging life of a low-income South African teen at this time in history. Much of the story stayed with me long after I finished the book-- the sadness and hope both.
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Cinco Puntos Press has released the first five chapters of This Thing Called the Future on their website! To read them, click here:

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The daughter of a geologist and a journalist, J.L. Powers spent much of her childhood camping and searching for fossils in the American West, and considers herself a true “desert rat.” She grew up on the U.S.-Mexico Border in El Paso, Texas.

She’s taught African history and freshman composition, research and argument, creative writing, and literature at the University of Texas at El Paso, Stanford