Barbara's Reviews > This Thing Called the Future

This Thing Called the Future by J.L. Powers
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's review
Mar 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: cultural-identity, death, families

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 away in front of her, she suspects that her mother may have AIDS. After all, the disease has taken its toll on many of the country's citizens. But out of fear at learning the truth, her mother refuses to go to the doctor until it's too late to help. On her mother's death bed, Khosi discovers some truths about her mother that shock her, and she is determined to make up for what her mother has done.

This book is filled with disturbing truths about AIDS such as its prevalence in South Africa and some of the bizarre ways men find to cure themselves of the disease. Even the cultural practice of having several wives might add to the likelihood that someone might become infected. In the case of Khosi's mother, she could only point to her husband as the culprit. Out of fear and to avoid being stigmatized, many individuals simply don't go to the clinic for tests as in the case of Khosi's best friend Thandi whose actions often put her at risk. The lecherous quality of men on the streets and even at parties makes it clear that females often need to be guard at all times, and Khosi often feels unsafe as she walks through the streets on errands. Even Little Man, her classmate with whom she feels the flickering of first love, can't protect her all the time. Although some of Khosi's dreams and connections to her ancestors' spirits may lend an exotic flavor to this novel, clearly, Khosi is stronger than she thought she was, and if she keeps her goals in sight and stays true to herself and her beliefs, her future should be bright. For many other girls, there may be no future, as the book makes clear. The book includes a glossary of Zulu words. Pair this with Chanda's Secrets.

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