South Africa in 1976 was boiling over with racial tension and discrimination. With the system of apartheid in full swing, Black South Africans endured pass laws limiting their mobility, segregated services, shameful educational systems, and undeserved, extreme violence on a daily basis. This is the backdrop for Arushi Raina’s powerful novel When Morning Comes.
Black South Africans defied the oppression of apartheid at every turn. Perhaps the most intense resistance events occurred in Soweto, a township outside of Johannesburg. The main characters of When Morning Comes are four very different young people who become entwined in turmoil as networks of students secretly plan to protest discriminatory educational policies. One of Arushi Raina’s strengths as a writer is how effortlessly she weaves South African history into an intriguing and entertaining coming-of-age narrative. The Soweto Uprising in 1976 was one of the most violent and tragic events in South Africa’s history and Raina’s historical novel teaches the reader about this turbulent history in a way that is gripping and personal.
I was excited to read this book because of my love for South Africa. As a youth, I followed apartheid resistance movements closely in the media and was always struck by the fact that in South Africa, people my age were fighting and dying for the freedoms I took for granted every day. As an adult working on my doctorate, I was able to travel to this beautiful country many times as I was researching libraries in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. During these travels, I was able to visit many sites of historical significance, including the site where the uprising took place. The time I have spent in South Africa has given me some of my fondest — and most challenging — memories.
When Morning Comes provides a vivid portrayal of this explosive era in South African history. It is an engaging narrative of friendship, loyalty, and political resistance. Well-written and descriptive, Arushi Raina creates multidimensional characters challenged to make decisions beyond their years. It should spark interest in readers to learn more about the apartheid era of South Africa’s history, as well as speak to those who recognize parallels to today’s world. Highly recommended.
Title: When Morning Comes
Author: Arushi Raina
Publisher: Jacana Media
Pages: 232 pages
Publication Date: April 1, 2018
Tags: South Africa, women writers, YA, historical fiction, friendships, coming of age, #OwnVoices
My Rating: Highly recommended
For more information:
Webinar/Interview with Arushi Raina https://youtu.be/JH_1utw2tGk
Africa Access Review http://africaaccessreview.org/2018/02/when-morning-comes/
Quill & Quire https://quillandquire.com/review/when-morning-comes/
“The June 16 Soweto Youth Uprising” on South African History Online https://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/june-16-soweto-youth-uprising
“’My activism started then’: the Soweto uprising remembered” for The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/16/my-activism-started-then-the-soweto-uprising-remembered
Soweto Student Uprising http://overcomingapartheid.msu.edu/sidebar.php?id=65-258-3
Many thanks to the author and Jacana Media for the complimentary ebook.