The Dubious Salvation Of Jack V. by Jacques Strauss
|The Dubious Salvation Of Jack V. by Jacques Strauss|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: This book is located in South Africa around the time of the ending of apartheid. Eleven year old Jack tells his own story which is unique, funny but also has its darker moments, as he hurtles towards adulthood.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: May 2011|
|Publisher: Jonathan Strauss|
|External links: Author's website|
Straight away the tone of the book is pretty clear as Jack tells readers that I was not, as a child, entirely satisfied with the composition of my family and I thought it unfortunate that I had two sisters. It certainly made me smile. And there are plenty of lovely, heart-warming and refreshingly honest lines such as these. Jack is certainly a character. He's a white boy living a very comfortable lifestyle with his family and he's more than happy to share his thoughts and opinions. Try stopping him. He's likable - lovable even but we learn that he has some less than attractive traits. But don't we all? But in young Jack's case, it all lands him in serious hot water.
We see the interaction between Jack and those around him. For example, his relationship with Susie, a big, bustling, black woman who's employed by the family. Jack calls her his second mother. He's a very lucky boy to have all this attention but he's also clever enough to appreciate it. Susie lives at the bottom of the garden (and no, she's not a fairy) in her own very modest 'home'. And like so many others, she's had to make certain sacrifices in order to make some money, earn a living - of sorts. While she works hard every day, her husband and teenage son live miles away in the family home.
Strauss is himself South African so I got the impression that he knows what he's talking about. Perhaps even lived it and breathed it himself. He gives his readers generous helpings of his homeland: whether it be history, politics, the economy or simply the domestic lives of both whites and blacks (I hate that phrase). Told as seen through the eyes of Jack, it all makes for an engaging read. It's also funny in parts - as you might expect from a chatty eleven year old. Jack's fears, worries and lots more come to he surface as the book progresses. Narrated in the first person, it's all about what it's like growing up in South Africa - a sometimes troubled and divided country. The winners - and the losers. We find out which is which.
The chats and conversations between Susie and Jack are lovely. They are so natural. They spend quite a lot of time together (she takes him to school every day, for example). And Strauss does a good job with his bubbly, larger-than-life character, Susie. I loved her. Her sentences are splattered with giggles and her local dialect. She also laughs a lot and I laughed with her. But it soon becomes clear that Jack wants Susie all to himself. She's his. Jealousy rears its ugly head.
As you might expect from a boy about to reach puberty, there's a lot of references to the body: the genital area and the sex act. What goes where exactly. All told in Jack's unique style. Not at all smutty but relevant in Jack's world. In fact, some parts are downright hilarious.
Then something serious happens which has far-flung consequences for the household. Jack has let himself down. He knows it only too well. But can he put things right? Tough call for a young boy. But he has the added benefit of a dual education, due to his Afrikaans father and English mother. A foot in both camps, you could say. But will things ever be the same again?
For me, it wasn't so much the plot or even the story, it was Jack's voice which I enjoyed. His honest banter. Whether it was full flow with his beloved Susie or bravado with his mates or teasing his younger sister, it hit the spot. An engaging read with a bit of a bite.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dubious Salvation Of Jack V. by Jacques Strauss at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dubious Salvation Of Jack V. by Jacques Strauss at Amazon.com.
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