Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Need New Names - Book Review

In We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, Darling and her friends sneak into the the city to steal guavas from the trees before returning to the shacks where they live in a place called Paradise. Everything has changed for them. Their homes were bulldozed. Their teachers have left the country. The schools have closed. Essentially homeless, the children play games to occupy their time, wait for the NGO to bring them candy, care for parents dying from AIDS and dream of leaving Zimbabwe for America.

Darling is able to join her aunt in Detroit, Michigan. In America she will find that not everything is as it appears on television. She struggles to fit into America while feeling the pull from her family and homeland and knowing that she cannot return.

Darling is a young narrator and I so appreciated her voice. It is authentic and innocent. She tells about what she observes and sees in the language and understanding available to a child. She is a remarkable character with determination to survive. Sometimes funny and often heartbreaking, Darling is an unforgettable character.

While the early chapters of the book were especially enlightening about Darling's childhood in Zimbabwe, I also found it interesting to read the perspective of the refugees and immigrants coming to America and trying desperately to fulfill their dreams here. Darling experiences culture shock and works to adapt to the use of technology, the cold snow of Michigan and the language.

We Need New Names is a powerful novel from a talented new author.

There is some swearing in this novel and graphic images.

**I received a complimentary copy of We Need New Names in exchange for my honest review.**