The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

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    Will the truth harm them or save them?

    When Nigeria’s corrupt military government kills their mother, twelve year old Sade and her brother femi think their lives are over. Out of fear for their safety, their father, an outspoken journalist, decides to smuggle the children out of Nigeria and into London, where their uncle lives. But when they get to the cold and massive city, they find themselves lost and alone, with no one to trust and no idea when or if they will ever see their father again.

    The other side of truth is a gripping adventure story about courage, family, and the power of truth.

    Publisher: Harper Collins publishers.
    Publication date: 12/24/2002


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    About The Author

    Beverley Naidoo grew up in South Africa under apartheid. She says: As a white child I didn't question the terrible injustices until I was a student. I decided then that unless joined the resistance, I was part of the problem. Beverley Naidoo was detained without trial when she was twenty one and later went into exile in Britain, where she has since lived.

    Her first children's book, journey to Jo'burg, was banned in South Africa until 1991, but it was an eye opener for thousands of readers worldwide. Her characters in chain of fire, no turning back, and out of bounds face extraordinary challenges in a society she describes as "more dangerous than any fantasy." She has won many awards for her writing, including the Carnegie medal, the Jane Addams book award, and the American library association best book for young adults for the other side of truth, about two refugee children smuggled to London who are also featured in web of lies.

    Editorial Reviews

    Sade, the 12-year-old protagonist of Naidoo's sophisticated and emotional novel, must flee her native Nigeria with her younger brother after their mother is killed in a shooting. Their father, a muckraking journalist in trouble with the military government, was the target. Sade and 10 year old Femi soon find themselves stranded in London, abandoned by the woman paid to smuggle them into the country, and at the mercy of mostly friendly, but foreign government agencies, foster families and teachers. Her father finally surfaces in England, only to be detained for illegally emigrating. Sade must learn quickly how to fight for what she holds dear, including her father's safety. The inclusion of real facts about African countries, such as the government's execution of Nigerian activist writer Ken Saro Wiwa, makes Naidoo's story more poignant, while the immediacy of the parallel story, in which Sade must deal with similar obstacles on a smaller scale (e.g., powerful school gangs), makes the novel more accessible. Flashbacks, letters written between father and daughter, and Sade's constant memories of her mother's sayings, add texture. Readers may be challenged by some of the British english, but they will find it easy to understand Sade's joy at reuniting with her father in prison, and likely find her determination exhilarating. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners business information.

    Publishers Weekly
    Gr 5-8 with political insight, sensitivity, and passion, Naidoo presents the harrowing story of two Nigerian children caught in the civil strife of their beloved homeland in the mid 1990s. Eighth grader Sade Solaja and her fifth grade brother, Femi, are hastily stowed out of Nigeria after their mother is shot and killed by assassins' bullets meant for their outspoken journalist father. The children are abandoned in London and are unable to locate their uncle, a university professor who has been threatened and has gone into hiding. Picked up first by the police and then by immigration authorities, the youngsters remain silent, afraid to reveal their true names and back ground. They are placed in a foster home where kindness does not relieve their loneliness and alienation. School is a frightening plunge into western culture, relaxed discipline, ethnic harassment, and peer intimidation. When their father, who has illegally entered the country, contacts them from a detention center, the children are jubilant. However, their excitement is overshadowed by his imprisonment and subsequent hunger strike. Sade enacts a plan to tell "Mr. Seven o'clock news" her father's story. Public attention and support follow, prompting his release. Tension and hope alternately drive the story as Sade and Femi grapple with an avalanche of decisions, disappointments, and discoveries. Traditions temper sade's despair as she remembers times at family house in Ibadan, and her mother's quiet admonition to be true to yourself. Through these compelling characters, Naidoo has captured and revealed the personal anguish and universality of the refugee experience. Gerry Larson, Durham school of the Arts, NC Copyright 2001 Cahners business information.
    School Library Journal
    Gripping suspense rules as Naidoo describes a young girl's world turned upside down by political events, first in Nigeria and then London. On the first page, Sade's mother is shot and killed by policemen, and she and her younger brother Femi are suddenly spirited out of their home country. Sade's father is an idealistic honest journalist, committed to telling the truth about the ruling "Buttons," as he terms the Generals. Things go from bad to worse as the roadblocks and officials in Nigeria turn out to be less dangerous than their accompanying protectors. Abandoned penniless and poorly dressed for November in London, Sade and Femi find their uncle has disappeared and they are homeless. Hoping only that they can hang on until their father can leave Nigeria as well, the two find themselves thrown into the social-services mill and taken into a foster home, struggling to apply for political asylum without endangering anyone in Nigeria. The foster homes, school system, and another refugee from Somalia, Mariam, alternately provide comfort and challenge. Naidoo ably sticks to Sade's immediate need to be true to her own values and needs, focusing on her memories of home and cultural icons as she looks for help. The larger political message that children should feel safe and not have to fear for their lives in any country is effortlessly apparent, as is the fact that both Nigeria and Britain have a way to go in claiming safety and justice for all. Far from being a patronizing glimpse of life in the third world, this is a vivid portrayal of complex people caught in complex webs using their own culture for strength in a time of need. Real-world scary.
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