Childish Things

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Dutton, 1996 - Fiction - 243 pages
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Childish Things transforms all that was ephemeral into the stuff of enduring art as it tells the story of coming of age in a country, a culture, and a world coming apart at the neatly stitched seams. Mart Vermaak is a budding teenager trapped in a strict boarding school in the South African outback. Mart relies on her precocious, smart-mouthed roommate Dalena to save her from terminal boredom. Fortified by the novels of Carson McCullers and many dramatic interpretations of Romeo and Juliet, both girls set out to discover what life is really about.
They soon find themselves in over their heads as the full weight of love, sex, and the political realities of their native land bear down on them. In alternating chapters, the adult Mart reflects on her adventures. Through her vivid memories, the vanished becomes visible again: in a marvelous montage of pop songs, rebellion, sex, comic confusions, and tragic casualties, the teenage girls become women playing games of love and lust in which risk runs high. The awkward young men they adore or abhor go off to fight for things they do not believe against foes they do not know. Wry and witty, haunting and elegiac, this novel is very much about South Africa at a crucial crossroads. Yet in its depiction of the struggle between generations, the interplay of friends and lovers, the intoxication of forging one's own identity, and the pain of paying the price of freedom, it is a story that speaks to all who are or have ever been young in a world they never made, swept toward an unknown future on tides of change they cannot control.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

From the author of Entertaining Angels (1995), a bittersweet if at times pretentious evocation of adolescence in South Africa in the '70s, a time of violent upheavals. Narrator Mart Vermaak, separated ... Read full review

Childish things

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Mart Vermaak detests the drab grey of the boarding school she attends in South Africa--the uniforms, the dorm rooms, the teachers, the food. Irrationally, she also hates the brilliance of flowers ... Read full review


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About the author (1996)

MARITA VAN DER VYVER is one of South Africa 's best known and most widely admired Afrikaans authors with a more recent following in English too. She has won more than ten writing awards and has penned a number of topsellers, among them Griet skryf n sprokie. Her English titles include "Short Circuits, Time Out, Just Dessert, Dear" and various books for children and young people. Married to Alain, a Frenchman, she lives in Provence with her patchwork family made up of his children, her son and their daughter. The public is fascinated by her idyllic lifestyle in France and her many fans follow her every move. Her magazine columns provide a glimpse into her family life and readers feel they know her personally. She loves food and cooking, and she writes beautifully. This collection of her family recipes and stories about food is bound to be a winner.

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