The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini
Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2009
Winner of the 2010 Orange Award for New Writers
Borrowed from the library.
A love story that covers the first decade of post independence Zimbabwe. Layered in history, ethnic divisions and political struggle and told directly and honestly, this is a wonderful first novel.
In the years following the Zimbabwe War of Liberation, Lindiwe Bishop, fourteen and black, lives next door to a white family, the McKenzie’s. One night there is a fire and Ian McKenzie, seventeen, is arrested and accused of a horrible crime. A year later he is released and the two strike up a secret friendship. Their relationship, in all it’s sweetness and turmoil, reflects the struggles taking place in a country trying to find political, economic and cultural independence and weighted with a history of ethnic violence and political corruption.
Sabatini uses everyday events, family tensions and the towns and countryside of Zimbabwe to tell a story filled with conflict but never heavy-handed. A love story that is also a story of love for Africa.