Far From Home by Na'ima B. Robert was a real joy to read. I don't have very much experience or knowledge of the political turmoil that Zimbabwe has faced, both with colonialism and with reclaiming their independence, but I am always fascinated when authors have the ability to tell a good story, fill it with such emotion as well as educate me in a very subtle manner.
I was lucky enough to read Na'ima B. Robert's previous books for a YA audience last year and loved the gentle nature of them and how very different both Boy Vs. Girl and From Somalia, With Love are to anything else I'd read previously. And while Far From Home is different in tone and structure to her previous books, it is still writtten in a very engaging and emotional voice and I fell into the story very easily.
Far From Home is split into three parts with two different narrators. Tariro and Katie are two very different girls both living in Zimbabwe. Through the eyes of both girls we are able to see the changing landscape of Zimbabwe, from the time of British colonialism to after Independence.
Tariro's account of her life before the white settlers has arrived is quite beautiful. She loves her family and her way of life. She loves the land and the old baobab tree that sits on her family's land. She has everything in front of her, with her recent engagement to childhood sweetheart, Nhamo. But it is not be, for the white soldiers who have moved in have other plans for the people and for this land. Despite some resistance, the dignity of Tariro and her family and community is slowly stripped as each thing that they hold dear is stripped from them, from their land, their homes, and finally their freedom.
It's quite difficult to read some sections of this book - Tariro and her family must live through such tragic events. There's such cruelty and inhumane treatment. It's heartbreaking to read of the suffering of these people but despite it all, inside Tariro still burns with hope and the strength to endure.
While I didn't feel as emotionally connected to Katie's story or to her outlook on her and her family's way of life, I was able to understand a bit how things had reached such a point. And despite how unsympathetic I felt Katie is as a character, I was still entirely gripped by the story to continue reading and to find out what possible outcome or connection there are between these two girls.
I think Far From Home is an incredible story, filled with so much heart and hope. I really no idea that such atrocities had occurred and I'm very glad to have had my eyes opened to this time of turmoil in Zimbabwe's history. Highly recommended.