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One of the best African 'growing up' biographies,
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This review is from: Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood (Hardcover)
Robyn Scott's debut book is a great start - a description of growing up 'on the fringe', with two very unconventional parents and two siblings in the midst of Botswana's countryside. In a way it is similar to Peter Godwin's Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa or Alexandra Fuller's Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood.
The first difference, of course is the slightly later timeline (80s and 90s), and then the book is set in a relatively benign Botswana and not in war torn Rhodesia / Zimbabwe. This certainly makes for lighter reading and overall the book is fairly full of optimism, in spite of certain events, which surely must have been difficult for a child to deal with.
In spite of the chaos of the author's (and her siblings') upbringing by their home schooling parents, one gets the impression of a happy childhood and the fact that all of the children managed to not only integrate but thrive in their lives in a more orderly society subsequently makes one somewhat curious in terms of trying some elements out. In essence it seems as if Robyn Scott has written the book that was meant to be her mother's life's work - on 'Living on the Fringe'.
While the book is written in a tone and with an innocence that will certainly make it readable for children, parents may want to think about that first - or else they could find themselves confronted with some hard to answer demands of their children in terms of schooling and life.
Furthermore, the book brings the love of Africa across fairly plastically and the hardships associated with it fade into the background, while the joy, thrill and vitality of it all is thrust to the fore throughout. On top of that, the author does a good job of informing the reader of the terrible AIDS crysis that swept the region at the time from a ringside seat, so to speak.
It is not a short book but as said by some other reviewers, one wishes for more in the end (it flows beautifully) but then again, as Godwin and Fuller have shown, there is always room for sequels to the story.