Thursday, November 21, 2019

When the Ground is Hard by Malla Nunn - HIGH

When the Ground is Hard by Malla Nunn, 272 pages. G.P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin), 2019. $18      

Language: R (0 swears, 1“f”); Mature Content: PG (infidelity); Violence: PG (fighting, racial slurs)



Adele Joubert seems to be the perfect 16yo mixed-race girl.  She's a good student, well mannered, and even has a white father who can pay her school fees and her mother's bills.  Because of him, Adele is considered one of the popular girls at Keziah Christian Academy, until she discovers her best friend has replaced her with a girl whose father has more money.  Adele is then forced to room with Lottie Diamond, a poor, outcast with a bad reputation. Lottie likes to fight and break the rules, but she also asks Adele some pressing questions, and has Adele thinking about what is truly important in her life. Maybe being a popular girl isn't everything and there is more to friendship than she imagined.  Before she knows for sure, Lottie and Adele find theirselves investigating the disappearance of a missing classmate and come to realize the outcome is not what they thought.   

Secrets, lies, dead bodies and accidents make for a riveting and gripping novel.  Nunn speaks volumes on the social injustice and pecking order in 1960 Swaziland and the violence girls and women endured. I loved the development of friendship and personal growth by each girl, Lottie and Adele, who were from such different worlds.  The characters were well developed and the scenery, although unfamiliar to me, seemed rich and beautiful.  I can see this book becoming an award winning novel.  A must have for your library or book shelf.      

Jessica Nelson Media Specialist                                                                   

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