Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace

Genre: Historical Fiction
Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Anderson Press, 2010

Africa, Zimbabwe, 1980's....... the war is over, independence has been won and Robert Mugabe has come to power offering hope, land and freedom to black Africans. It is the end of the Old Way and the start of a promising new era.
For Robert Jacklin, it's all new: new continent, new country, new school. 

The story begins as an unhappy Robert is being driven to his new boarding school. Written as a first person narrative and with a real understanding of a young person's sense of dislocation it took only a few pages to empathise and feel Robert's sense of loss of all that dear and familiar, his uncertainties and fears for his future in this strange environment.
In the coming months he struggles to adapt, suffering the traditional hardships of boarding school life while having to confront new issues of racial tension and social change. With no understanding of the feelings of children raised in a white minority and a climate of war he is vulnerable.
As the bullying and violence grows Robert is faced with is saddening to see him make the wrong ones but inevitable and understandable he does. His tentative friendship with the young black Nelson ends and he becomes a follower of the dominant Ivan and joins in his violent and racially prejudiced activities.

But Robert grows up: he begins to think for himself and eventually finds the courage to stand up against what he considers wrong.

I thought this book was outstanding! I don't read many YA novels and I certainly didn't imagine that the story of boys in boarding school would make an impact but I was wrong. It took hold from the first page and I didn't put it down until I finished. It's not easy reading...............moving, disturbing and at times horrifying and shocking it's beautifully constructed and makes compulsive reading. Not suitable for younger readers but I do hope it's not limited to being only a YA book for I think it is one that most adults will find worthwhile reading.

Out of the Shadows is Jason Wallace's debut novel and I , for one, will be looking forward to his next work.
Highly recommended!

I read Out of Shadows as part of it's International Book Tour


  1. Wow outstanding, sounds good :)

  2. I'm glad you liked this book too. I agree that it was sad and frustrating to see him keep making bad choices, but it was believable, in light of the circumstances.