When Morning Comesby Arushi Raina Published 16 Jun 2016
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Zanele is skipping school and secretly plotting against the apartheid government. The police can't know. Her mother and sister can't know.
Her best friend Thabo, schoolboy turned gang member, can tell she's up to something. But he has troubles of his own—a deal gone wrong and some powerful enemies.
Across the bridge, in the wealthy white suburbs, Jack plans to spend his last days in Johannesburg burning miles on his beat-up Mustang—until he meets a girl with an unforgettable face from the simmering black township—Soweto.
Working in her father's shop, Meena finds a packet of banned pamphlets. They lead to a mysterious black girl with a secret, a dangerous gangster with an expensive taste in clothes, and an engaging white boy who drives a battered red car.
A series of chance meetings changes everything.
A chain of events is set in motion—a failed plot, a murdered teacher, and a secret movement of students that has spread across the township.
And the students will rise.
"When Morning Comes" Reviews
Without any connection to the characters (all of their voices sound the same), the story didn't do anything for me, so I dropped it. I didn't get the same sense of pacing and adventure other readers did. I found things picked up around the 100 page mark, but by then, I had already checked out. The first 30-40 pages, though, were rough.
Excellent story of Soweto Uprising--the beginning of the end of Apartheid.
When Morning Comes is a terrific YA novel that should be getting hella more attention than it is. It's the story of four South African teenagers on the eve of the Soweto Uprising -- a black girl involved in the planning of the uprising, her friend who has recently become a gang member, a white suburban boy killing time before he goes to university, and an Indian shop-owner's daughter who comes to know all three of them. Raina tells a wonderful story that manages to avoid didacticism entirely: Her characters aren't learning life lessons so much as they are doing life. The book feels particularly timely in this current political moment, as all four protagonists have to grapple, in their different ways, with living in an oppressive regime and deciding how they're going to respond to it. Much recommended.
Historical YA fiction, with the Soweto uprising of June 1976 central to the story.
Different kinds of courage are required of four young people. There are the brave teenage girls, revolutionary schoolgirl Zanele, and resourceful Meena, a shopkeeper’s daughter who starts helping out at a clinic, but also serves as a go-between for those pupils organising the mass protest against the “baas law” (the imposition of Afrikaans as the language of instruction), and again later as the leaders are forced to flee. Then there’s privileged white boy Jack, whose life, attitude and values all change when he meets Zanele, and tsotsi Thabo, enigmatic, conscienceless, and yet all too human. All four are very well-realised.
The brutality of the apartheid police, and the insensitivity and lack of imagination and empathy (at best) of affluent whites are rendered in a series of short scenes.
The novel is fast-paced and dramatic. Slightly disconcerting to a South African reader (in the edition I read) was the spelling of certain words – paap for pap, and Coobus instead of Cobus, and an error in the glossary at the end. I understand that a South African publisher is bringing out a new edition, so probably these will be corrected.
4.5 stars. What a powerful story! My heart's still pounding. And I learned so much. I knew about apartheid, or thought I did. But the Soweto Riots were new to me. They happened when I was six years old, and so far this is the first thing I've ever read about them.
I loved how different the four MCs (one white, one Indian, two black) were, how they showed the life of Johannesburg and the story of the Riots from such different angles. I loved how raw and real their stories felt -- nothing too neat or predictable. How things didn't work out as they expected or planned, and sometimes they hardly knew themselves why they were making certain choices or what they would do next. It made the story feel visceral and immediate; it also made them all very believable adolescents.
The writing style is powerful too -- spare but not simplistic. It fits the profile of YA, but it could easily crossover to the adult market (and I think it should).
I've read a review which seemed mildly critical of the way Raina plunges the reader into the setting and peppers the narrative with Zulu and/or Afrikaaner slang which at first can be a bit hard for a North American reader to understand. But often the meaning of these phrases is pretty easy to infer from the context, and if not there's a perfectly fine glossary at the back and it doesn't take long to catch up. (Personally, if I could get away with saying "Thula wena" without being an obnoxious mlungu I would, because a milder version of "shut up" could be very handy.)
For parents and others wondering about "content" issues, there is certainly some violence (for obvious reasons, because it was a violent incident in South African history), but it's not excessively or gorily described -- the style is more journalistic than sensuous (which in a way makes it hit even harder, because you can imagine what's not being said). The book has three or four profanities at most, and always in Afrikaans (not that you can't guess what the word is, but it doesn't have quite the same effect as seeing it in English). No blasphemy or anti-religious content. Sexuality is minimal and of the fade-to-black variety, so less explicit than many books teens are reading in high school.
Anyway, this is a very fine book and more people should read it. I hope they do.
When Morning Comes vertelt het verhaal van vier tieners ten tijde van de Apartheid in Zuid- Afrika. We volgen een blanke jongen van een welgestelde familie, een Indiaans meisje dat de dochter is van een supermarkthouder en twee zwarte jongeren die in Soweto wonen. Terwijl alles in het werk wordt gezet om de 'Soweto Riots' op gang te krijgen, bloeit er een zeldzame vriendschap tussen deze vier personages op.
Ondanks dat het plot niet heel bijzonder klinkt, is het dat zeker wel. Arushi Raina verwerkt een heleboel historische feiten van de Apartheid en de rellen in haar verhaal, wat het verhaal indrukwekkend, informatief en rauw maakt. Niet alleen worden de plannen voor de opstand bedacht, maar ook lezen we hoe hard het leven toendertijd was. Dat dienstmeisjes niets meer waren dan hulp voor blanken. Dat de politie onnodig grof en hard optrad. Dat er zoveel haat en woede onder de mensen was. En zo kan het lijstje nog wel een tijdje doorgaan. De rauwheid wordt wel enigszins verzacht doordat er door de personages empathie wordt opgewekt. Naast alle narigheid is er toch ook ruimte voor liefde en vriendschappen.
Met regelmaat wordt er gebruik gemaakt van 'slang' en hoewel de Afrikaanse woorden goed te herleiden zijn voor ons als Nederlanders, is het toch fijn dat er een verklarende woordenlijst achterin het boek staat. Naast Afrikaans, worden er ook woorden in Zulu gebruikt en die zijn wat lastiger te herleiden.
Het verhaal is erg snel en het is dan ook jammer dat het boek slechts 222 pagina's telt. Meer pagina's had een betere uitwerking van de personages kunnen geven, waardoor het wellicht een vijfsterrenboek geworden was. Nu blijf ik haken op vier sterren, omdat het net niet volledig voelt.