Library:ADCLP/A monkey's wedding

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A monkey's wedding / Norman Silver.


This novel is set in Yeoville, Johannesburg in South Africa. Four teenage girls from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds vow to be friends through thick and thin to resist the increasing violence occurring in their neighbourhood in the post-apartheid period. The four girls have very different personalities, and readers will likely find at least one girl to identify with. The story covers the girls’ lives from early to late teens, their problems, growth, loves, and triumphs. The story is told in the first person through the eyes of Reena, a white South African girl with two brothers, a father who abandoned them, and a mother sews to earn a living. The novel opens strongly. The first page reveals the fact that one of Reena’s friends is either missing or dead, and her friend’s parents are looking for more information. Readers are compelled to continue reading in order to discover the circumstances of this tragedy. The authentic voice of a teenager is created with the careful choice of words, phrasing, and minor grammatical errors, for example, in the sentence, “The day Nelson Mandela became president of the new South Africa, me and my friends, like most other people in the country, were so excited.” I thought the story ended abruptly, leaving me unsatisfied. Reena’s friend disappears on page 143 and the novel ends on page 144. There is some speculation about what happened, but the situation is left unanswered. I found the final two sentences rather weak in comparison to the rest of the novel: “A year passes, and then two. Sindizwe [Reena’s friend] was never heard of again.” It seems as if the author runs out of energy and is not able to finish the novel. “A monkey’s wedding” is a South African phrase describing the sun suddenly shining during a rainfall. The title perhaps symbolizes the sense of hope for a better future in South African in the post-apartheid period.

Reading Levels

Ages 13 - 17 / Grades 8 - 12

Publication History