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Child of the River
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Archived Group Reads - 2018 > September's Group Buddy - Child of the River by Irma Joubert

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message 1: by Beth, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (bbulow) | 2341 comments Mod
September's Group Buddy Read is Child of the River by Irma Joubert!

GR Summary:
A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi's world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi's close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie--heir to the Fourie farm and fortune--are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi's isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her--dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her--the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland--she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life--and every life--matters.


message 2: by Beth, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (bbulow) | 2341 comments Mod
I read this book a week or so ago when I was laid up and sick, haha.

I really enjoy this author's writing. Though The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert is probably still my favorite of these two, I really enjoyed Child of the River.

Chime in below if you think you'll join in on the discussion!


Christine | 434 comments I will be joining in! Glad this book was chosen as I loved The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert !


Christine | 434 comments It took me a little while to get into this; now it is hard to put down!


message 5: by Beth, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (bbulow) | 2341 comments Mod
I agree, Christine. A bit of a slow start until I got used to the writing style, but then I read it pretty quickly. :)


Caroline | 371 comments Finished this book couple of days ago. I agree with Beth that though I like The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert better, this is still very good. I had read The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert early this year, which is the story of Lettie (the doctor) and Marco and liked it as much as "Child of the river".


Christine | 434 comments Ohh, just finished section 2. Without adding any spoilers, words cannot describe...


message 8: by Beth, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (bbulow) | 2341 comments Mod
Well, it looks like there probably won't be anyone else joining in on the read with us, and it's over midway through the month, so feel free to post discussion and don't worry about spoilers!


message 9: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah (bookwormhannah) | 867 comments Yeah...my reading is seriously delayed this month!!


message 10: by Beth, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (bbulow) | 2341 comments Mod
Hannah wrote: "Yeah...my reading is seriously delayed this month!!"

I'm right there with you! I read this last month when I was home sick. Sadly those sick days really helped my reading, hehe.


message 11: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah (bookwormhannah) | 867 comments True! It doesn't help that I'm so tired I fall asleep trying to read right now.


Christine | 434 comments How did folks feel about the ending? I have to say I didn't like it. I am a true romantic, but this just didn't feel right to me. I wanted Persomi to be content in the life she is living, with of course the possibility of romance in the future. I guess I just wanted what would be more of a realistic ending. Plus it just seemed so abrupt. Thoughts?


Cassie Dean | 17 comments Christine wrote: "How did folks feel about the ending? I have to say I didn't like it. I am a true romantic, but this just didn't feel right to me. I wanted Persomi to be content in the life she is living, with of c..."
I felt the same way Christine! I didn’t care for the ending at all. It felt rushed, as if the author wanted to tie up all loose ends with a happily ever after. The book overall is very realistic, protraying life like it really is, so the ending felt very much out of place.


Rebekah Brown | 43 comments I FINALLY finished Child of the River. I found the first half of the novel to be slow and I kept reading a little bit at a time and then putting the book down. However, as soon as Persomi starts working at the law firm...BAM the story drastically picks up! Perhaps it was the translation, but the writing style of the story felt all over the place. Can I just say there were 2 instances in this book when I wanted to walk away from this book and never return?!? …. AHHH!!

Ending- Child of the River went from minimal romance in the first half, to a full fledged romance novel. I’m not complaining, as I enjoy plots that are heavy handed with the romance. However, I tend to think the ending could have been handled in a different way, as it was abrupt and didn’t fit the overall feel of the story. I had a feeling Persomi and Boelie would get their “happy ending” but I didn’t think it would go down the way it did. After witnessing Persomi’s character throughout the novel, I didn’t think her response to Boeile’s “I was divorced 2 mins ago and now we can be together...YAY!” would have been “OK” as they walk off into the sunset.

Can we talk about Persomi’s mother? It’s really a wonder how Persomi turned out to be an amazing woman with such influences in her life. It really goes to show you that environmental influence has a huge impact, but if you want change in your life enough you can overcome your circumstances. I’m not sure how Persomi was so patient with her ma, if I was attempting to communicate with her and she responded with her typical “Oh Persomi”, “ok”, or “heavens child” I might lose it!


message 15: by Beth, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (bbulow) | 2341 comments Mod
Christine wrote: "How did folks feel about the ending? I have to say I didn't like it. I am a true romantic, but this just didn't feel right to me. I wanted Persomi to be content in the life she is living, with of c..."

On one hand, I agree with you about it being rushed. There was no falling action, nothing to give the reader a moment to breath before the story ended. On the other hand, while they were certainly not old, they weren't young 20 somethings anymore. I think they had waited a long time to be together and the moment for a future romance was way past. I think Persomi would continue to live the life she feels she's called to, regardless of romance or not. However, I didn't love the way that the author chose to portray the ending. Rushed and it cheapened what they had to go through to get to the point where they could be together.


message 16: by Beth, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (bbulow) | 2341 comments Mod
Rebekah, you mentioned the writing style and that's something I wanted to mention as well. I know that these novels are translated from Afrikaans, but I didn't notice such repetitive phrases (seriously I thought her mother only knew how to say "Heavens, child" for a minute, lol) in The Girl from the Train. I wonder if it was just translated better? It's a shame because I think removing some of the repetitive phrases would have helped me stay in the story more.

I really couldn't stand her mother. I felt bad for her, but as a mother, she should have been protecting her children. And then for Persomi to just assume that it was Boelie she was related to rather than...the name escapes me at the moment, but the guy who ends up being her brother. Why didn't she just ask her mother what she was panicking about? I didn't get that.


message 17: by Beth, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (bbulow) | 2341 comments Mod
Despite my qualms, I loved the parts of this story that dealt with real issues of history. I feel like I learned a lot while reading, and I greatly admire Persomi's character. She has such fortitude and despite her rough start, used the opportunities she was given to help others.


Christine | 434 comments I'm right there with you Beth. The historical aspects and Persomi's characters were wonderfully written. I gave the book 3.5 stars, only because of the ending. Otherwise I would definitely have given it 4 stars as there was so much I loved about the book.


Christine | 434 comments Beth wrote: "Christine wrote: "How did folks feel about the ending? I have to say I didn't like it. I am a true romantic, but this just didn't feel right to me. I wanted Persomi to be content in the life she is..."

So true and well-written Beth. Wish I could have described it as well :).


Caroline | 371 comments I liked the friendship between Persomi and Reinier. Their conversations were so refreshing and showed how comfortable they were with each other. It was a nice surprise to know later that they were half-siblings.


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