Book reviews

WildKristin HannahPan MacmillanReview: Karen Watkins

Their lives collide: a small girl who has no recollection of her past and a doctor who is trying to escape hers.

Missing Children South Africa’s statistics show that a child goes missing in South Africa every five hours and indicate that 77% are found.

This is the story of a 6-year-old girl who appears in Rain Valley on the border of Olympic National Forest – a place “that had never been touched by the golden rays of the sun”.

The story opens with child psychologist Dr Julia Cates appearing in court after one of her clients unexpectedly shot and killed some other children.

The case against Julia is thrown out, but her career is in ruins.

She returns to the small town when her sister Ellie, who was once the town’s cheerleader and is now the chief of police, needs her to help on another case.

The child has arrived in town with horrific scars on her body. She howls if anyone tries to get close. She does not like bright, shiny objects and is unable to speak or cry.

Slowly Julia begins working with her, using all her professional skills, forging a close bond and is determined to help this little girl whom she names Alice. Meanwhile, helped by Ellie ,they desperately search for the girl’s family.

Into the mix is the divinely handsome but aloof medical doctor Max Carrasin. He is nursing his own psychological wounds and is also on the run from his past, that is, until he meets Julia.

Added to the madness is a mob stirred up by a ruthless media campaign.

The outcome is a balance of careers and the justice system as police and doctors question their roles in the life of this vulnerable child.

When I started reading Wild there was a déjà vu feeling that I’d read it before.

Persevering, I was caught up in the tangled lives of the characters and their struggles for survival.

It wasn’t long before I could not put the book down.

This poignant thriller is a riveting read and thoroughly recommended.

A Family AffairSue NyathiPan MacmillanReview: Karen Watkins

This family saga begins with a wedding complete with designer label outfits and luxury cars. It also begins and ends with a message: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman of childbearing age must be in want of a husband.

A truth that independent, gutsy Zandile wrestles with as she prepares to marry Ndaba.

She is the youngest of three sisters and born to a relatively wealthy household in Bulawayo’s fruitful years when the Mafu family fortunes had been secured.

Her sisters Xoliswa and Yandisa were born in Zimbabwe’s barren turbulent 1970s.

Their parents are Pastor Abraham and his wife Phumla, leaders of their church, The Kingdom of God.

As their lives unravel, secrets are revealed that threaten to tear the family apart. Xoliswa breaks up with her varsity boyfriend and returns home from working overseas. She hopes to take over the family business. Unruly Yandisa believes she has met the love of her life and is trying to get her act together.

Nyathi manages to weave insight into how traditional values, beliefs and superstition blend with modern times. Each chapter seems to take on a different theme: sexual and financial inequalities, hierarchy, adultery, abortion, female rights – all set against the background of a collapsing Zimbabwean economy. And the sex scenes are delicious.

Nyathi was born and raised in Bulawayo and presently lives with her son in Johannesburg. Her first novel, The Polygamist, was published in 2012. She is currently writing a sequel.

Her second novel, The Gold Diggers, was published by Pan Macmillan in 2018. And yet technically A Family Affair was her first book.

She started writing it while at varsity and after rewriting it about 10 times it was published, thankfully. A piece of chick lit not to be missed.

● One lucky reader can win a copy of A Family Affair. Email your name, phone number and address to before midnight on Sunday March 7. Please type A Family Affair in the subject line.

● We received 29 entries in our book competition for The City of Tears last week. The winner was Saskia Post of Wynberg.