Sunday, July 13, 2014

Zulu Dog by Anton Ferreira

Title: Zulu Dog
Author: Anton Ferreira
Publisher: MacMillan
Rating: WORTHY!

Yeah, I know, I should have posted this one earlier when I also reviewed Alpha so I could have had the start and end of the phonetic alphabet all in the same month! Oh well!

This middle-grade novel is really enthralling, well-written, and full of interest. On the micro level, it relates the story of Vusi, a growing Zulu boy who is something of a rebel, and who lives in poverty on a small Kraal in Eastern south Africa. Against his mother's express wishes, Vusi rescues a dog pup which has barely survived a leopard attack, and nurses it back to health, training it as his own hunting dog despite the fact that it's missing one leg.

On an expedition one day to prove his bravery by trespassing on the farm property of a nearby well-to-do white family, Vusi encounters a white girl, Shirley, who is something of a rebel herself. The two bond and start meeting regularly, out in the bush away from disapproving parental eyes, and learning of each other's life and hopes.

The more time they spend together, the more fond they grow of each other, but this isn't a romance at all. No, this is a novel, on a macro-level, about poverty and racism. When Shirley goes missing one day, all hell breaks loose, and it takes young Vusi and his trained dog to discover what has happened to her. The ending is happy, but it's a sorry thing that it had to go through all this just to get people to understand that we're all human, black, white or anything in between, and in the end it's the person you're dealing with, not the color of their skin, which is what counts above all else.

I recommend this novel as a great read.

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