A timeless coming-of-age 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 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 landscape 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.
The English language publication of Child of the River solidifies Irma Joubert as a unique and powerful voice in historical fiction.
“Filled with lessons of grace and love, Child of the River is a story that reminds us all to hold steady through life’s most fragile hours.” —Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Perennials