As some of you know, I know Trilby Kent and have posted short interviews with her here (for instance, see: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/author-interview-with-trilby-kent-2/). I was excited this week to read Trilby’s new YA book, “Stones for My Father”, which I downloaded for my Kindle.
“Stones for My Father” follows young Corlie Roux as her family fights to survive during the Boer War in South Africa. Corlie’s father has passed away and her mother, a cold, stern woman, works to keep the family – Corlie and her two younger brothers – alive. The encroaching British soldiers cause the family to flee their farm and they live in a circle of wagons with other settlers. Soon, though, they are discovered by British soldiers and taken to an internment camp for refugees. Corlie must face hunger, sickness, and loneliness in an effort to survive.
I LOVED Trilby’s novel and the character of Corlie. This novel has several layers to it – the story of the Boer War (which I knew only a little about), the story of Corlie’s family, Corlie’s relationship with her young African friend (their servant’s son), Corlie’s relationship with her brother Gert, Corlie’s mother (a complicated and not terribly likable character who is abusive to Corlie), and the role of a young Canadian soldier who befriends Corlie and her brother. This is a quick read – less than 200 pages – but compelling and at times intense. Some of the passages are heart-wrenching – even disturbing – and this novel can be read on more than one level. While YA readers will most certainly focus on Corlie’s trials and tribulations in her efforts to survive, older readers will also want to analyze Corlie’s family structure, the role of Boer women at that time (1899), and the bigger issues of war and land control in Africa by other countries. I would have loved to have read this novel as a middle schooler — and I think adult fans of good historical fiction will like it as well.
Hats off to Trilby for a great read!