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Hum If You Don't Know the Words
Hum If You Don't Know the Words | Bianca Marais
159 posts | 62 read | 198 to read
Perfect for readers ofThe Secret Life of BeesandThe Help, aperceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband's death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin s parents are left dead and Beauty s daughter goes missing. After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection. Told through Beauty and Robin's alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum if You Don t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family."
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MamaGina
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Small Spoiler: Just after this passage we meet a hero who helps this hurting child whose parents have died start to heal and that hero is the head librarian ... oh my heart 💔

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MamaGina
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This book is breaking my heart! 💔

TrishB Sounds like a good read 👍🏻 5mo
Tamra I really enjoyed this one - distinctive voice! 5mo
24 likes2 comments
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woodreads
Pickpick

This was beautifully written- I was brought to tears at a few points. Human connection, permanence, love and loss.

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Tashreads
Pickpick

This is a special book. Both heartwarming and shocking, with characters you will want desperately in your life. Do yourself a favour and read it!

40 likes3 stack adds
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Tashreads
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So, we are past the halfway point of 2019 already 😱 and these are the best books I‘ve read so far. What are yours? ⁣

rachelk So far my favorites are ‘Becoming‘ and ‘A Gentleman in Moscow‘! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 7mo
Chrissyreadit I‘m really enjoying cozy type reads- 7mo
63 likes1 stack add2 comments
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MsLeah8417

CURRENTLY READING

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Karkar
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Starting this one tonight. Really enjoying it so far, only 10 pages in. Happy Friday!

RadicalReader The title I relate to whenever any hit songs come on 9mo
59 likes1 stack add1 comment
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jmtrivera
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I've read most of these #YellowSpines and liked almost all of them, but probably the tagged book most of all.
#SpringIntoReading

Crazeedi Nancy, yes!!😍 9mo
jmtrivera @Crazeedi I want my daughter to have all the old school yellow spine Nancys one day. I only have these two now, but then again, she's only 2. 9mo
Crazeedi @jmtrivera that's awesome, my daughter has a few of mine, but many were not kept, think my mom got rid of them,🤨 9mo
jmtrivera @Crazeedi Yeah, I lost mine years ago. I guess I get to buy more books. Oh darn. 9mo
BiancaMarais ❤️❤️❤️❤️ 9mo
24 likes5 comments
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karenna
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Pickpick

A great story with heart-warming characters. This would make a good book club selection because it deals with many discussion-worthy topics and the author has an interest in doing phone interviews with book groups. (Listen to Book Cougars podcast episode 65 to hear their interview with Marais. At the end of the episode, the author states she‘s available to interact with reading groups.) Excellent audio narration.

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chris.wolak
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Pickpick

This debut novel is a page-turner that I highly recommend. If you like coming of age novels, historical fiction, stories about race, relationships, orphans, or foreign lands, you‘ll want to pick up Hum. If you‘re more of a non-fiction reader, this novel will provide loads of emotional context for what life was like under Apartheid.

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jmtrivera
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More #PlayingCatchUp! One before I go to work, and hopefully more later!
📖 The Hunger Games, Hum if You Don't Know the Words, and Harry Potter, obviously!
🖋Going withCynthia Hand, her books are fun!
🎬Hocus Pocus, because it's the season!
🍽 Hummus. 😋
#ManicMonday @JoScho

JoScho 🖤🖤🖤 1y
23 likes1 comment
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CoverToCoverGirl
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My #booksale #bookhaul and this only Part One @SquidgetsRoom ... good thing it only happens once a year.. 😳🙄🙃#CJWolfe

SquidgetsRoom That‘s awesome!!! You did good!! I don‘t think my shelves could handle more than once a year lol! 😂 They‘re overflowing as is! 📚😂💖 1y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa Wow! Great book haul! 1y
zzz Holy moly! 🤤 1y
See All 7 Comments
Reagan Yes! Good job! 1y
StellaDz 😲😲😲😲 1y
tammysue Whoa! 🤩 1y
Nute Yay!😆 9mo
45 likes7 comments
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auntie_jenn
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Pickpick

so glad i switched to audio so i could listen to the beautiful south african accents in this narration 4.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BiancaMarais Thank you so much for the lovely review! I‘m so glad you enjoyed it! 1y
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Judybskt
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1. Only the Brave
2. Movies and dinner
3. 5
4. Supposed to discuss Tuesday at book club 😏
5. Alrighty!!
@jesshowbooks
#friyayintro

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Judybskt
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Donuts, coffee and a new book to dive into. And I‘m at the beach! #lifeisgood

BiancaMarais So hope you enjoy it! 2y
Judybskt Thank you! I‘m reading it for book club. So far so good! 2y
7 likes2 comments
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GirlWellRead
Mehso-so

I had incredible admiration for Beauty, not only for her intelligence, but for her compassion. Her stoicism and strength when met with such adversity was nothing short of amazing and I wish that the entire story was told from her perspective. She is well-written without being trivialized, Marais shines through her characterization.

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Ncostell
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Pickpick

I got this book at the Yankee Book Swap at our #CTLitsyMeetup. Thank you @mrozzz for bringing this as your selection! It was a beautiful book, giving us a glimpse into the lives of a white South African girl and her black caretaker during the time period of the Soweto uprising. Viewing their struggles brought the enormous complexities of life in apartheid-era South Africa to an intimate, personal level. I really loved it!

BiancaMarais Thanks so much for that amazing feedback! I really appreciate it. 2y
BiancaMarais And thank you, Mel @mrozzz 💚 2y
mrozzz So glad you liked it!! 😊 2y
See All 8 Comments
mrozzz And @BiancaMarais I will never stop recommending it to fellow readers! I‘m on pins and needles waiting for your next book!! 2y
Bookish_B We ear this for book club recently and loved it! ❤️ (edited) 2y
Ncostell @Bookish_B. I bet it was great for book club. So much to discuss! 2y
MrBook 😁👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 2y
BiancaMarais 💚💚💚💚 2y
69 likes4 stack adds8 comments
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Bookish_B
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Pickpick

Last night we had book club for this wonderfully delicious book: Hum If You Don't Know the Words. We all loved it and highly recommend it. We met at a bar called Catcher in the Rye and ordered drinks with names like Tequila Mockingbird, Secret Garden, Tropic of Capricorn, and munched on treats like Holden Cauliflower 😁. When the bill came it was tucked into a copy of Lemony Snicket. I loved it all. It was a fantastic evening!

TrishB Sounds fab 👍🏻 2y
RebelReader Sounds wonderful! 2y
Alfoster How fun!😍👏👏👏 2y
See All 8 Comments
DivineDiana Where is it??? 2y
Bookish_B @TrishB @RebelReader @Alfoster I'm already dying to go back. The drinks were delicious! 😊 (edited) 2y
Bookish_B @DivineDiana in Los Angeles 2y
DivineDiana @Bookish_B Thank you! Looks so fun! 2y
BiancaMarais 💚💚💚💚💚 2y
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Wingneedle
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BookishTrish
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My “This is only 50 cents at the book sale so I can‘t pass it up” pile is outta hand. Any I must read? Any to skip? #helpaLittenout

Bronte_Chintz I‘d be interested to hear about the secret life of bees, I‘ve heard great things! 🐝 2y
Caroline2 The Kevin book is really good! 👍🏻 but very dark! 😟 2y
Insightsintobooks My sister's keeper and The Secret Life of Bee's are both good. 2y
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RealLifeReading Oh definitely read the Sarah Waters! 2y
Billypar I personally loved Glamorama, but it's a risky pick if you're not already a fan of the author- a love it or hate it kind of thing. I would read a random paragraph or two. 2y
Blaire We need to talk about Kevin and hum if you don‘t know the words are both good. 2y
Jabberwocky These are all so good! And a Sarah Waters!! 2y
PirateJenny Black Hills is sooo good!!!! 2y
BookishTrish @Jabberwocky Have you read the Waters? I can send it your way when I‘m done if you like. #seatosea 2y
Jabberwocky @BookishTrish I have it! It‘s somewhere in my tbr stacks 🙃 2y
StillLookingForCarmenSanDiego Loved The Secret Life of Bees 🐝 and Papillon 🦋 2y
Lcsmcat Secret Life of Bees is one you should read. It‘s very good. 2y
BookishTrish @Caroline2 @Blaire Kevin is a reread; last time I had to do it in one go because it was so dark and intense 2y
BookishTrish @Billypar I ❤️ BEE 2y
BookishTrish @PirateJenny Thanks for sharing - I was leaning toward re-donating that one because it‘s so huge, but I‘ll hang onto it. 2y
BookishTrish @RealLifeReading Good to know. I liked 2y
Conservio I like my Sister‘s Keeper. 2y
CouronneDhiver Read about Kevin... that‘s a good (creepy) one! 2y
Billypar I think Glamorama is almost as good as American Psycho, on par with Rules of Attraction and Lunar Park (all 4, my favorites from BEE). If you picked it up, hope you enjoy! 2y
whatsjennareading Tipping the Velvet is great! 2y
83 likes21 comments
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Ncostell
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This was the book that I got from the Yankee swap at the #CTLitsyMeetup yesterday at RJ Julia‘s in Madison, CT. It looks fantastic and I had not heard of it before so I‘m looking forward to reading it. It was wonderful to meet everyone! Great company and great location 🙂

MrBook 😁👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 2y
Yeah_I_Read This book is amazing ❤️❤️ 2y
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mcipher It was so great to meet you! Enjoy the book!! 👍 2y
mrozzz ☺️📚💕 2y
tammysue 👏🏻 Loved this book! 2y
Ncostell @mcipher It was wonderful to meet you as well! Thank you for setting up the Yankee swap too! That was a great idea. (edited) 2y
Ncostell @Yeah_I_Read, @whatshesreading now I can‘t wait to read it! I just got a bunch of library holds in at once so it‘s going to be a little while. But it‘s up next after them. 2y
mcipher And clearly you and I have good taste in books... 😂 2y
Ncostell @mcipher Yes, it‘s always great to meet another Kate Atkinson fan! 2y
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rmaclean4
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Great workout at the gym. Then lunch with my best friend and my son. Then stopped by our local independent book store, Union Avenue Books, and picked this up. Now to settle in and finish a couple of books I am near the end of. #goodsunday #livingmybestlife

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Tamra
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Pickpick

Interesting story in time, place, and setting. Makes me want to learn more about this period in South Africa. The reader does need to suspend disbelief toward the end, when the 9 year character is not as realistically portrayed as she was earlier on.

Anovelobsession I loved this one! 2y
Tamra @Anovelobsession I don‘t know much about S African history so it piqued my interest. I had to look up Afrikaans - 3rd most used language there. 2y
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erinreads
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Checked out a fairly new bookstore on Capitol Hill after the used bookstore earlier. Mini #bookhaul: husband‘s selection on the left, mine on the right. 🙌🏻

Tamra I‘m currently reading Hum and enjoying it. I hope you do too! 2y
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Tamra
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😂😂 This was an LOL.

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tammysue
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Pickpick

A TRUE GEM! Highly recommend!

A beautifully written novel about apartheid — tragedy. racism + injustice. survival.
Set in 1970‘s apartheid-era South Africa.. the story of a white child + black mother whom (after the Soweto student uprising) meet under extreme circumstance + loss, and the challenges they face while seeking answers during those difficult days. Unputdownable so grab Kleenex and be ready to sit a spell!

A 5 Star EYE-OPENER for me!

BiancaMarais Thanks so much for this amazing review, Tammy! Really appreciate it and so glad you enjoyed HUM! 2y
tammysue @BiancaMarais My pleasure - absolutely loved it! 😁👏🏻 2y
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Leelee.reads
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Pickpick

This was a longtime TBR I‘ve been looking forward to, so maybe my expectations were unrealistic. Not an author who believes in “show, not tell” -messages are about as subtle as a whack on the head. Also some “white (wo)man to the rescue” (literally) issues. But it‘s a touching story, has some lovely scenes, and offers a narrative on Apartheid that is seldom heard here in America. I appreciated it even more having already read Born A Crime.

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jenpro
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I was mute. I didn‘t know what to say in a world where people were hated and attacked for not being the right color, not speaking the right language, not worshipping the right god or not loving the right people; a world where hatred was the common language, and bricks, the only words.

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Tamra
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I thought of you yesterday @RebelReader when I picked up this signed copy at the Galleria B&N yesterday. 😊 I too am anxious to read it!

Tamra By the way, have you been to Moon Palace Books on Minnehaha? We drove by it after leaving United Noodle (SO GOOD), but didn‘t have time to stop. 😩 (edited) 2y
RebelReader I‘ve been to United Noodle but not Moon Palace! Now I‘m hungry! 🤣🤣 2y
Tamra @RebelReader I just looked at their website and they are opening a Greek Cafe in the store soon. Yum! 2y
See All 6 Comments
RebelReader @Tamra Books and Food equals heaven for me! 😜 2y
BiancaMarais So hope you enjoy it @Tamra! And @RebelReader, thank you so much for spreading the word! Can‘t tell you how much I appreciate it! 💚 2y
RebelReader @BiancaMarais My pleasure! 😃 2y
96 likes6 comments
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RebelReader
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We got two authors tonight!! Chloe Benjamin on the left and Bianca Marais on the right. I went because Chloe was going to be there and she was wonderful, but I really enjoyed Bianca and cannot wait to read her book. Bianca also told us she just delivered her next book to the publisher and it sounds good too. Chloe has just started her next book and she says she writes slow so we will be waiting awhile for her next offering. Great night! ❤️❤️

Tamra So envious! 2y
AmyG Nice! 2y
Prairiegirl_reading Cool! I have both on my tbr shelf!! 2y
See All 16 Comments
tammysue Lucky!☘️ 2y
Schlinkles I am almost finished with The Immortalists and bought Chloe‘s first book, The Anatomy of Dreams because I‘m enjoying her writing so much. 2y
vivastory Looks like fun! 2y
MommyWantsToReadHerBook Is Bianca living in the US? I see it's a South African story, looks good! 2y
mrozzz Waaahhh! Jealous! Been dying to catch Bianca Marais. Her book is fabulous. 2y
RebelReader @MommyWantsToReadHerBook Bianca moved from South Africa to Toronto in 2012. Her personal story is fascinating. 2y
MommyWantsToReadHerBook @RebelReader thanks, my feelings about South Africans taking up residence abroad notwithstanding, I should check her out! 2y
BiancaMarais Thank you so much for coming out for the event! Really, really appreciate it and so hope you enjoy it! 💚💚💚 2y
BiancaMarais @MommyWantsToReadHerBook Thanks for wanting to check the book out! Appreciate it! We moved overseas only because we love travelling and adventure, and doing so on the rand and from SA is hard. I‘m still proudly South African and since I can‘t still volunteer in Soweto like I did for years, I now fundraise in Canada for SA causes. You can take a South African out of SA, but you can‘t take SA out of a fiercely proud South African! 🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦 2y
RebelReader @BiancaMarais It was so great to hear your story and meet you last night. Hopefully when you come back to promote your next book it will be summer here in Minnesota! 😃 2y
BiancaMarais @RebelReader I was in St Paul for the hardcover launch of HUM in July last year and I must say, I‘m a winter person all the way! Loved it there yesterday 😂 2y
BiancaMarais @RebelReader Love your state and its amazing people! And of course, meeting you was an absolute treat! 2y
MommyWantsToReadHerBook @BiancaMarais I hear you, some days I wish we could move for the simple reason of greater earning power. Wonderful that you're working for SA causes! 2y
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Owlizabeth
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Pickpick

There was some lovely writing in this book about a 10 year old white girl and 50 year old Black woman in 1970s South Africa in the grip of apartheid. It was a little too “white girl learns valuable life lessons off the pain of Black woman” for me to really love the story, but it was an interesting read. 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼1/2

And that‘s the third book finished today!!

LauraBrook If only every day was that filled with reading! 2y
Owlizabeth @LauraBrook I know! I feel so accomplished!! 2y
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Owlizabeth
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MargoCatts That quote just got the book on my TBR list! 2y
Texreader Good quote 2y
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Owlizabeth
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Owlizabeth
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Also books had always helped me make sense of the world and given me answers when I needed them.

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Owlizabeth
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My ideal evening, kids are quietly occupied in their rooms, dog is snoring and we‘re engrossed in our books #couplesthatreadtogether

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Owlizabeth
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I can‘t believe I was going to take this book back to the library tomorrow unread. Really glad I decided to try a couple of pages even though I didn‘t think I was in the mood. The writing is entrancing.

Now I need to put it down so I can sleep!!

jmtrivera Such a good book! 2y
BiancaMarais What an amazing endorsement! Thank you for giving HUM a chance! 💚 2y
68 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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Reese_Pearly.Pages
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Late night audio 🌚🌑

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LDuffN
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What I'm readin now!!! #whatchareadin 📚📖📰📃

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Owlizabeth
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Today‘s #libraryhaul has no theme...

Christine11 American War sounds really interesting! 2y
IheartYA ....the best kind of haul. 😊 2y
95 likes2 comments
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BrownGirlReading
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Pickpick

A great story of 2 unsuspecting characters, black 50 year old Beauty and white 10 year old Robin, living in 1970s South Africa during apartheid whose paths cross. This meeting will change their lives but will it be for the better? You‘ll just have to read it and find out. I highly recommend it.

mcctrish I loved this book 2y
BrownGirlReading @mcctrish Yes it‘s very good. 2y
wistfulthinking This sounds really interesting! 2y
BrownGirlReading @wistfulthinking It is. Definitely check it out! 2y
20 likes3 stack adds4 comments
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mrozzz
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Yay @Liberty thanks so much for doing this giveaway, it looks like a great stack!!! 😍 #VACATIONBOOTY

HUM was definitely one of my favorite reads this year and probably the one that surprised me the most since it flew under the radar and in my opinion did not receive enough hype!

LeahBergen I love this photo! 2y
BiancaMarais Thanks so much for that wonderful endorsement! I really appreciate it! And I love this pic! 2y
mrozzz I mean it! @BiancaMarais your book really made an impression on me. I can‘t wait to see what you come up with next! 😊 2y
mrozzz @LeahBergen Thanks! I thought it was appropriate placement at the NYPL 🤓 2y
65 likes4 comments
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booksbythecup
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"I didn't have the words then to articulate what I was feeling, but on some level I'd understood that tears are neither black nor white; they are the quicksilver of our emotional turmoil and their salt flavors our pain equally."

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Lupita.Reads
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Mehso-so

A sweet story with a lovely plot and great message. This is the type of fiction Id recommend gravitating towards when you need a feel good read that doesn‘t necessarily challenge or provoke you.

SandyW On a TOTALLY unrelated note, my husband and I just saw this ice cream profiled on a Sunday morning news program this week. How random! 2y
Lupita.Reads @SandyW 😂 Id recommend that ice cream as well! Not mind blowing but an interesting experience lol hope you check it out! 2y
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MoMogrl
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Pickpick

My most recent five star read happens to be my most recent read. Finished it way too late last night to post when I was done. This is a five star read for two reasons: it tugged at my heart strings through the whole thing and I couldn't predict what was coming which is very very rare for me.
#7777giveaway @Booksandcooks

Megabooks This is on my TBR. 😀👍🏻 2y
22 likes1 comment
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Lets_Talk_Books
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Pickpick

Loved It!!! Thanks Bianca Marais for a wonderful story of lovable characters. Robin and Beauty are in my heart.

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MoMogrl
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My next read. And it's laundry day.

Yeah_I_Read It‘s sooo good 😊😊 2y
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mcctrish
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Pickpick

Just an absolutely wonderful book!! The story is told from 2 perspectives; Robin a 10 yr old white girl and Beauty a 50 yr old black woman. It is set in South Africa during apartheid and it is raw and beautiful with moments of love, grief, violence, brutality, growth, sacrifice. Just stellar

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Blaire
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Pickpick

Set in apartheid South Africa the story is told by Beauty (a black woman) and Robin a white girl forced to face her prejudices after tragedy. Beauty's story, that of her daughter, the Soweto uprising and her relationship with robin is powerful. She gives robin much needed honesty and care. At times robin was infuriating, but I think intentionally so. Left wanting more about beauty and her daughter and their future. Good book club pick.