Thursday, January 9, 2014

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

4 Stars
NoViolet Bulawayo tells a tale that is almost unfathomable.  Who could ever imagine living the first few years of life as an average middle-class girl, in an average house, in an average town, attending an average school and having that world flipped upside down?  That is the story of what happens to Darling and her friends when bulldozers sweep through their average lives in Zimbabwe, demolishing everything in their path.  Now the children and their families live in a shanty town, overrun by starvation, disease and despair.  Darling’s only hope that keeps her going is the dream of one day making it to America and living with her aunt.
What a remarkably honest book.  NoViolet Bulawayo makes you become Darling.  You truly feel like you are reading a story told by a 10-year old girl (and you progressively get older along with her).  Dealing with the horrors of reality ranging from poverty to rape to racism to AIDS to the fact that America may not be the land of milk and honey which so many dream of, Bulawayo pulls no punches.  The writing style of chapters that read like miniature stories rather than a continuous narrative really works in this book.  Bulawayo has a lot to say – a lot that NEEDS to be said – and she found a great way to put it all in one book that is just the right length.

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