Parental & Personal Sacrifice

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

 

This book had me at the mention of South Africa and while I was apprehensive about what I’d find inside the covers, given what I know about Apartheid, I simply had to read it.

The novel opens with Yolanda Peterson, who is in the US but relives the trauma from an incident that took in her youth. Her mother’s entreaty for her to come home starts Yolanda on a journey that will bring her face to face with the daughter, and the unresolved parts of her history she left behind.

Meanwhile, in South Africa her daughter, Ingrid, discovers the mother she’s been told is dead is very much alive. Both Yolanda and Ingrid are searching for different parts of the same whole. While Yolanda seeks her missing mother, Ingrid is looking for the father who committed a crime under Apartheid by having a relationship and child with her mother. In reading A Conspiracy of Mothers, the title of Trevor Noah’s book (Born A Crime, which I haven’t yet read) made sense.

The actions of Yolanda’s mother and that of Ingrid’s father collide in a way that makes this story a page-turner. Both mothers will go to any lengths to protect their children and when the climax comes, several persons suffer.

A Conspiracy of Mothers provides insightful social commentary and explores how different people deal with the same situations. Some are broken by, and comply with, the circumstances of the day. Others refuse to be oppressed and repressed by their challenges. At the core of this tale, the themes of parental and personal sacrifice are highlighted in several ways.

The supernatural element makes this tale all kinds of interesting and was woven throughout in such a way as to be credible, given Yolanda’s mother’s background and culture. I enjoyed the setting and vivid pictures painted, as well as the lyrical language used by the author of this debut novel.

The realities of life in South Africa were starkly drawn and the writer shone a light on the systematic creation of different layers of a society by colour. This stratification was even brought to life by some incidents in the supernatural scenes.

If I was inclined to read a book more than once, this would be one I’d choose to re-read. If you enjoy history, exploring family dynamics, and a well-written tale, check out A Conspiracy of Mothers.  

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