Life wasn’t always this hard for fourteen-year-old Mvelo, who lives with her mother, Zola in the shacks on the margins of Mkhumbane township. There were good times when they lived with Sipho, Zola’s lawyer boyfriend. But when the beautiful and mysterious Nonceba Hlathi arrives, Zola has to make a choice. She also has her pride. Now their social grants have been discontinued: the one for Mvelo being underage reared by a 31-year-old single mother, and the other for Zola because of her status. And there is also an elephant growing in their shack as the terrible thing that happened that night in the revival tent remains unspoken.
Do not go gentle
In her second novel, Futhi Ntshingila once again introduces us to a cast of strong women who have little, but are determined to shape their own destinies.
In this novel, Ntshingila depicts the intricacies of life in a squatter camp. She shows how the need for love, security and a sense of belonging cause the lives of the most unlikely people to cross paths. Do Not Go Gentle is a compelling, intense read which portrays how diverse characters sway between solace and disenchantment as they engage with each other.The storyline leaps beyond the boundaries of race, class and borders.
An in-depth look at how HIV/AIDS has impacted several generations of women in South Africa and how mothers and daughters deal with abuse, poverty, and disease while navigating parenthood. After her mother’s death from HIV/AIDS, Mvelo, 14, becomes pregnant after she is raped by a visiting minister. Though she lives in extreme poverty, she finds resources and hope in unlikely mentors and benefactors. Readers will learn about the two generations of women who came before Mvelo—her life echoes many of her mother and grandmother’s struggles. These well-crafted characters and their attempts to make better decisions than the previous generation will resonate with teens. VERDICT Those who appreciate realistic fiction will enjoy this novel in which young female characters learn to love themselves, no matter the circumstances
Full of heart and hope despite the emotionally challenging subject matter, this slim novel by South African Ntshingila begins with the story of 14-year-old Mvelo, a girl living a hard life in the slums of Durban, South Africa, with her mother, Zola, who is dying of AIDS. It’s a tough existence, but when Mvelo becomes pregnant after a sexual assault, she has to make a choice that could change everything around her. Set about a decade after the end of Apartheid, Ntshingila tells her story by peeling back layers of narrative, jumping to the points of view of several characters, all of whom have a role in revealing Mvelo’s past and changing her future. Each character has their own story, and though the full scope is often hidden from view, each element contributes to the puzzle piecing together Mvelo’s life. This is clearly written, in part, to highlight the issue of gendered violence in South Africa, and Ntshingila succeeds without being heavy-handed. A haunting, all-too-true story with plenty of compelling depth.