The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo
|The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo|
I am interested in stories about contemporary Africa that are suitable for older children. So when I spotted The Other Side of Truth in the library a couple of weeks back, I picked it up in a shot. And if you see it in yours, I’d recommend you borrow it too.
The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo was a Carnegie medal winner in 2000. That meant it was probably well-written but it could also mean that it was full of ‘issues’. Being Beverley Naidoo, of course there were going to be ‘issues’. Her earlier novel, Journey to Jo’burg had been banned by the South African government during apartheid. And, yes, The Other Side of Truth tackles very big issues. It deals with political murder, smuggling, racism, bullying and political asylum in the UK – and it does it sensitively and very well.
The Other Side of Truth literally starts with a bang in Nigeria and it swiftly moves on to London. It tells the story of two Nigerian children, Sade (12) and Femi (10), who find themselves caught up in a growing web of lies in a strange country without their parents after their mother is killed in Nigeria. Sade is tormented by these lies because her mother had always taught her how important honesty was. Now, Sade finds that being honest isn’t always so easy when there are life or death issues at stake.
The story is written as a bit of an adventure but deals with the real life issues of asylum seekers. Sade especially proves herself to be a worthy heroine as she holds herself responsible for ensuring their father's safety - even at her and Femi's expense.
Most readers will warm to Sade and Femi immediately because these characters find themselves in really awful and heartwrenching situations more than once. Will it ever get better for them? Despite the big issues that this book takes on, it is an easy read. What I particularly liked about this story was that there are some really nice adult characters too. It is a very hopeful story and I highly recommend it. If I had a list of ‘best books for children/teens’, this would be on it.
2000, Puffin, London, paperback
This copy: borrowed from public library