Warman, Janice. The World Beneath
May 24th 2016 by Candlewick Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Joshua is growing up in South Africa in the 1970s. His mother works for the Malherbe's, who are wealthy but rather dysfunctional. Because Joshua had tuberculosis as a child, he is not living with his grandparents in their rural village as his siblings are, but lives with his mother and helps in the yard and with jobs around the house. Slowly, Joshua starts to realize, after conversations with friends and family, that the way of life that he has always known is unfair, and that he and his mother should not have to be subservient and have fewer opportunities than the white Africans do. Change is difficult, however, and Joshua sees the problems that arise when the status quo is questioned.
Strengths: This is an important topic that has seen little coverage in middle grade literature. The author gives a lot of details about every day life, and writes effectively about the difficulties faced by Joshua and his family.
Weaknesses: Even I needed a lot more background information about the history of South Africa to understand what was going on in the book. Even notes in the back would have helped. For a South African audience, who knows the background, this would be a powerful book.
What I really think: While I would love to have books on this topic, I may pass on this one because I think my students will find it confusing.