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Out of Shadows [Paperback]

Jason Wallace
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

28 Jan 2010

'If I stood you in front of a man, pressed a gun into your palm and told you to squeeze the trigger, would you do it?'

'No, sir, no way!'

'What if I then told you we'd gone back in time and his name was Adolf Hitler? Would you do it then?'

Zimbabwe, 1980s

The war is over, independence has been won and Robert Mugabe has come to power offering hope, land and freedom to black Africans. It is the end of the Old Way and the start of a promising new era.

For Robert Jacklin, it's all new: new continent, new country, new school. And very quickly he learns that for some of his classmates, the sound of guns is still loud, and their battles rage on . . . white boys who want their old country back, not this new black African government.

Boys like Ivan.

Clever, cunning Ivan.

For him, there is still one last battle to fight, and he's taking it right to the very top.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Andersen (28 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849390487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849390484
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jason Wallace is a descendent of one of the first International English cricketers, and of the world-renowned Victorian circus owner "Lord" George Sanger. His family tree also crosses with that of J.R.R. Tolkien. He was born in Cheltenham in 1969, then emigrated to Zimbabwe with his family in 1983. It was his experiences during the aftermath of the war there that forms the foundation of his first novel, Out of Shadows.

Product Description


WINNER of the Costa Children’s Book Award, 2010 —Costa Book Award
WINNER of the Branford Boase Award, 2011 --Branford Boase Award
WINNER of the UKLA Children's Book Award, 2011 —UKLA
Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, 2011 -- The CILIP Carnegie Children's Book Award
Shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize, 2010 --Booktrust

'Sometimes a book takes you somewhere and keeps you there. Honest, brave and devastating - Out of Shadows is more than just memorable. It's impossible to look away.' -- Markus Zusak - The author of The Book Thief

'An extraordinary coming-of-age novel . . . a startlingly original debut . . . Charting the change from childhood to adulthood against growing political discord gives the novel a sense of urgency, and the book's intensity, drama and pace leaves a lasting impact.'
-- The Bookseller

Excellent. The latest lacerating addition to the boarding-school-as-living-hell genre...read on if you have the courage. The author attended a similar establishment at the age of 12,and gives every indication of knowing exactly what he is writing about. --Independent on Sunday, Nick Tucker

(Out of Shadows is) a provocative story, powerfully written. Some may find the themes difficult, the climax shocking, but Wallace has produced a first novel where all the heat and intensity of an African nation in flux burns on every page. He's a definitely a writer to watch in the future. --The Scotsman, Keith Gray

A novel to recommend to older readers, particularly those studying Golding for GCSE.
--The School Librarian

"Terrific debut novel." --The Independent on Sunday

"A memorable, moving and disturbing coming-of-age story." -- Julia Eccleshare, Lovereading4kids

"Beautifully written." --Ruth Swindon, Independent on Sunday - Hit List

"Out of Shadows is one of the best debut novels I've ever read . . . At times chilling and dark, yet strangely hopeful, Out of Shadows is one of those books that I know I'll revisit in the future . . . I can't recommend it highly enough." -- Jenny Davies, wondrousreads.com

"Jason Wallace is a writer to follow - there will hopefully be many books to look out for in the future. In spite of my reservations this is a book to be read, to bury a past that has no place in the new Zimbabwe that remains to be built." -- The Zimbabwean

"This is one of those rare, outstanding books that when you come to the end you know with certainty you will return to it again. It is also a book that is so hard-hitting and thought provoking you feel compelled to tell everyone you know to read it!" --Browns Books for Students

One of Lovereading4kids' 'Best Children's Books of 2010' --Lovereading4kids.co.uk

'A thrilling teenage tale of belonging. The charismatic Ivan is a marvellously drawn character; subtle, clever, tough, cruel, devious . . . Jason Wallace (is a) fine debut author.' -- Ham & High

'This is a fantastic book! You can tell Jason Wallace knows what he's writing about.' --Bookwitch

'A powerful emotionally charged book.' --Nayu's Reading Corner

`It is a long time since I've read a perfect novel such as this; the type of book that captures you from the opening passages and takes you on a journey that haunts you for days afterwards.' --Emm, blogcritics.org

`This hard-hitting story could well become a children's classic.' --Daily Express

`One of the best debuts I have ever read. Fantastically written, powerful and important and at times horribly shocking, yet strangely hopeful. With scene that left me in stunned silence.' --Western Morning News

'This novel excels, bringing readers up to the grim, uncertain present with mastery.' --Kirkus Magazine, starred review

'An original, at times violent, thought provoking and ultimately shocking story for older readers.' --Good Book Guide

`Elegiac and edgy...your mind will remain full of this book long after you've closed it.'
--Armadillo Magazine

`Jason Wallace paints a shocking picture of betrayed friendships, cruel bullying, and racism in a post-colonial society that leaves readers speechless.'
--The White Ravens 2011

'A stunning debut novel without a false note. Accomplished and powerful, it changes the way you think.' --Costa Book Award

'Classic crossover fiction...(Wallace's) unblinking portrait of true evil raises it above the norm... It's something that schools should study and readers read. Bravo!' --Amanda Craig, The Times

'(Jason Wallace's) bleak, ferocious debut is a powerful, devastating read for older teens.' --Patrick Ness, The Guardian

Shortlisted for the North Lanarkshire Catalyst Book Award, 2011
--North Lanarkshire Catalyst Book Award

Shortlisted for the WE READ Award --co-ordinated by Tamara MacFarlane and University College School

'A powerful story.'

Book Description

A compelling, thought-provoking novel about race, bullying and the need to belong set in Africa.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
By Newanda
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel is set in Zimbabwe in the early years of the Mugabe government after a long, bitter bush war and struggle for black independence. The story takes place at a prestigious boys private boarding school with traditions steeped in the past (the house names at the school are all former colonial heroes). In an era of peace, freedom and hope for the new Zimbabwe the school is struggling to adapt to the changed environment and the admission of black teachers and students. However, a significant number of its pupils are the sons of white farmers who were at the frontline of the 'lost' bush war and the beginning of the possible confiscation of white farms. For them the new Zimbabwe serves only to breed resentment, reinforce their deep racial prejudices and fears for their livelihood.

Add in the traditional boarding school elements of bullying, deference, loneliness and the struggle to make friends and alliances and there are all the ingredients to craft an interesting novel.

Thrown into this mix and starting at the school as a junior, is a young English schoolboy, Robert Jacklin, son of idealistic but dysfunctional parents starting a new life and career in Zimbabwe. Wrenched from his schooling in rural England and oblivious to the racial tensions of his new country, he is jettisoned into this alien and hostile environment. Desperate to return 'home', he struggles to fit in, and the story deals with his dilemma to find his courage to defend his new black friend against the racist bullying but at the same time build alliances with some of the stronger (and nastier) elements to protect himself from violent abuse such as from the conniving and manipulative Ivan.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Shadows 12 Feb 2010
By Jenny, Wondrous Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Out of Shadows is one of the best debut novels I've ever read. It's fantastically written, and has left me close to how I felt when I read The Book Thief for the first time. It's powerful and important, and at times horribly shocking. I sat there in stunned silence after reading one particular page, and had to take a minute to fully comprehend what had happened. That's strong writing, if ever I saw it.

Out of Shadows begins in 1983, a few years after the end of the Rhodesian Bush War (or the Zimbabwe War of Liberation). Robert Mugabe is now Prime Minister, and Zimbabwe is no longer ruled by white people. I hardly knew anything about this historical event before reading this book, and so once again I was given a history lesson. It's very interesting, and is the first time I've come across this setting in a YA book.

Robert Jacklin is a very likeable character for most of the book, and I'm so glad it's written in the first person. He started off as an unassuming 13-year-old, and grew into a strong, decent man right before my eyes. He has more tough decisions to make and bad choices to live with than anyone that age should, but each shapes his life and who he becomes. His friends are a less desirable bunch, and though I see why Robert was so eager to be part of their group, things would have been vastly different if he'd stayed well away.

At times chilling and dark, yet strangely hopeful, Out of Shadows is one of those books that I know I'll revisit in the future. I've been thinking about it ever since I finished it, and am finding it hard to get it out of my head. I can't recommend it highly enough, and I hope it eventually gets the recognition and praise it deserves.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspensful, violent, evocative 11 Mar 2010
I was bowled over by this book. I have to confess to a family connection to the author, but that doesn't affect what I thought of the book one bit, except that I wouldn't normally pick up a book supposedly aimed at young adults. For a start I was fascinated to see how Jason Wallace's own teenage years had been transformed by a vivid imagination into fiction. At least, I hope it's fiction, as I was really shocked by the violence of the boys towards one another. It was brave, too, to tackle such difficult moral themes in a first novel, and against a background about which so little has been written, in fiction at least.

I wouldn't consider it a book for young adults particularly - I think it was a great adult read, and had me turning the pages far into the night to see what happened next. And it really made me think and reflect long after I'd put down the book. I do hope someone snaps up the screen rights: as I was reading it, I could quite clearly see what it would look like on film. Like other reviewers, I can't wait to see what this author produces next.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and beautiful 16 Feb 2010
I would not ordinarily read a book like this but I was pleased I did. It is wonderfully evocative of time, place and adolescence. I challenge anyone not to identify with, be interested in and care for all the characters (both good and bad) - there is a lot in the book that reminded me of what it was like to be at school and to yearn for acceptance and friendship and simultaneously to be yourself.

The writing is both strong and elegant. Importantly (for me), I never felt I was reading a book aimed at young adults - there is plenty for adults in there with some brutal and horrific events that change the characters' lives forever. Most novels I have read that are aimed at younger readers tend to not have this degree of quality and I often find the plot and pace a little simple and shallow. Both the plot and pace here are excellent. Nothing feels false and manufactured - it has the depth and complexity of real life.

I was hooked straight away and read the entire book in three sittings. From the midpoint of the book I could not stop, and read the last 150 pages into the early hours of the morning - I literally could not stop until I knew what happened to everyone.

Next book please!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Great start but I found the second half disappointing.
I thought this was a great story when I started it but it actually tipped over into something that was just too unbelievable for me. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Lizzy
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book
As a Zimbabwean child myself, I was able to strongly relate to this book from personal experience.
Reading this book made me feel as if I was there in the moment of the story,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tashana
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, brutal, fast paced debut novel
Out of Shadows is an incredibly well written book aimed at Young Adults but very suited to adults also. It's not for the faint hearted as it is brutal and shocking in places. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Tipp Girl
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A story of a lonely young man's angst against the back drop of Mugabe's Zimbabwe. An all too believable plot with no hint of it till the final chapters. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Geoffrey H. Kerr
4.0 out of 5 stars A Vivid and Powerful Account of Life in Zimbabwe in the Eighties
This is a very powerful book about a teenage boy struggling to find his way in a school he doesn't understand and a country he doesn't understand. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing but Dark Work
I picked up this book looking for something light, having just ploughed through "Pilgrim's Progress". But in fact, no. This book was heavy for a different reason altogether. Read more
Published on 6 July 2012 by Sir Furboy
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling and exceptionally well written book
This is a compelling and very well written novel by a highly acclaimed author, which I read in two days flat, a much unusual feat for me. Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2012 by Miss J. M. Austin
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book to read
This book is about going to a boarding school in Zimbabwe after independence in 1980. Racial politics was still at the front of everyday life and this book is no exception as the... Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2012 by M. Hamilton
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I really liked the book- it was a bit of a harrowing read at times with all the bullying, but it shows real insight into Zimbabwe at that time and a story that needs to be told so... Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2011 by fizznic
5.0 out of 5 stars Took me back to the mid 80's....
Loved it. Very compelling reading and couldn't put it down. Took me back to my time in Zim, much reminded me of the school I was at - Bothashof (now Eaglesvale). Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2011 by D. Stone
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