The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door Winner of the Orange Prize for New Writers Immediately engaging vivid and buzzing with energy The Boy Next Door is the work of a true storyteller At heart a love story it is also so much as t

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Winner of the 2010 Orange Prize for New Writers Immediately engaging, vivid and buzzing with energy, The Boy Next Door is the work of a true storyteller At heart a love story, it is also so much as, through the experiences of its charismatic protagonists, it charts the first two decades of the emerging Zimbabwe with honesty, humour and humanity Irene Sabatini haWinner of the 2010 Orange Prize for New Writers Immediately engaging, vivid and buzzing with energy, The Boy Next Door is the work of a true storyteller At heart a love story, it is also so much as, through the experiences of its charismatic protagonists, it charts the first two decades of the emerging Zimbabwe with honesty, humour and humanity Irene Sabatini has written an important book that will enchant readers and which marks the emergence of a serious new talent Di Spiers, Editor of Readings at BBC Radio 4,Orange Award for New Writers Chair of JudgesSynopsis In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, there is a tragedy in the house next door to Lindiwe Bishop her neighbor has been burned alive The victim s stepson, Ian McKenzie, is the prime suspect but is soon released Lindiwe can t hide her fascination with this young, boisterous and mysterious white man, and they soon forge an unlikely closeness even as the country starts to deteriorate Years after circumstances split them apart, Ian returns to a much changed Zimbabwe to see Lindiwe, now a sophisticated, impassioned young woman, and discovers a devastating secret that will alter both of their futures, and draw them closer together even as the world seems bent on keeping them apart The Boy Next Door is a moving and powerful debut about two people finding themselves and each other in a time of national upheaval.
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176 Comment

  • Alayne Bushey says:

    Breathe in. And out. Where do I begin with this review?I received this book from Hachette Book Group; I’ll start there. It sat on my bookcase for a while before I was ready to pick it up; it was intimidating and large and serious looking and I knew I needed to be ready for it. I started it, and fifty pages in I stopped and restarted it, and I’m glad I did. Restarting it allowed me to settle in with the narrative voice, it let me be fully familiar with Lindiwe and the way she uses memories to [...]

  • seanat (elka) says:

    What I love about reading is that you can pick up a book you've never heard of, full of a place and time you know nothing about and by the end of it have a real feel for the people and their lives.A small mystery , an unlikely seemingly impossible relationship and real characters set amid the turmoil of post-war Rhodesia/Zimbabwe sets the scene for a very memorable book. This book was 'lekker'!!

  • Wilhelmina Jenkins says:

    Had I reviewed this book after the first 150 pages, I would only have given it 3 stars. It had the usual first novel feel, with passages that could have been much more fully explored. But by the time I reached the end of the book, I had been totally drawn in. The relationship between Ian, a "Rhodie" and Lindiwe, a young "colored" woman in Zimbabwe shortly after independence was initially not that compelling - typical teen love. But as the book went on, their struggle to build a meaningful life t [...]

  • Judy says:

    This book immerses the reader in the political unrest experienced in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) as well as the culture, religiosity and corruption. The Boy Next Door is the coming-of-age story of a young black girl and the white boy next door, their romance, trials, and troubles as a racially-mixed couple in a political hot zone. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that Ian (white boy) appears to have the deepest loyalties to Zimbabwe of the two of them. In spite of the educati [...]

  • Jenny (Reading Envy) says:

    After signing up for the Around the World in 52 Books challenge for 2012, I ended up in a handful of other groups having to do with world literature. This was selected as the November contemporary lead in the Great African Reads group. I'm behind, and then chose to listen to the audio, but I finished today.First of all - the narrator of the audiobook was wonderful. She has also done some Adichie and I would love to hear her do that. Her accents really brought the story to life for me, particular [...]

  • Steve Jones says:

    I loved this engrossing novel. In a crowded market of first time novels this one stands out both for its unusual setting - Zimbabwe in the years following independence - and for its sure handling, a keenly observed story by a writer who clearly knows the world she describes and who is obviously passionate about all her characters.Lindiwe and Ian are the protagonists, neighbouring teenagers who inhabit very different worlds, she a black Zimbabwean, he a 'Rhodie' with the attitudes of a ruling eli [...]

  • Elaine says:

    I loved this book. It was a wonderful, page-turning, sometimes heartbreaking, clear eyed, unsentimental immersion in Zimbabwe from the 80s til today, told through the lens of a powerful uncliched love story. It has the sweep and power of an epic novel, a fresh crisp narrative voice, and characters it is easy to care passionately about. A lovely counterpoint to Don't Let's Go to the DogsThis book goes beyond archetype and cliche and shows us life in Zimbabwe from the inside. It's not easy to brea [...]

  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship says:

    I picked up this book looking for a novel about Zimbabwe, but it turned out to be a “modern relationships” type book--a story about how relationships are difficult and complicated, with a Zimbabwean backdrop. Which might not have been so bad, except that I never believed in the relationship and there’s precious little plot to capture the reader’s attention. The first chapter was promising, but the rest of the book failed to deliver.The Boy Next Door chronicles the relationship between Li [...]

  • Joyce Reeds says:

    I absolutely loved it. I am returing the ARC to the friend I borrowed it from but I am going to buy my own copy. I googled the book and found the following review by Debra Ginsberg in Shelf-Awareness which really captures the way I felt about the story: Irene Sabatini's remarkable debut novel about Zimbabwe is a kaleidoscopic blend of elements encompassing everything from coming of age and first love to race, nationalism and the rapid degradation of a once-thriving country. Her portrayal of thei [...]

  • Max says:

    This is the best book I’ve read in many years. The characters are very much alive and the story is vividly told. There is so much life and suffering at the beginning… I was saddened by what seemed to be another tragic story about the impossibility of living through one’s choices. But how the story proved me wrong! I got engrossed with the plot a little more every page I turned and ended up feeling very emotional and attached to the characters, all of them. They all have a truth to tell. Th [...]

  • Monica says:

    I tried to give this book a chance, but I honestly did not enjoy reading it. I had a number of issues:- The use of slang. I don't mind it when the words are explained, but as they were not, it was very difficult to understand what the characters were referring to a lot of the time. A skilled author could use the context of the story to explain to the reader what the words mean - otherwise, a glossary would have sufficed. - The political aspects of the story. I don't know anything about Zimbabwe/ [...]

  • Jane says:

    Hooray for the orange Award for new Writers!Why? Because this book might never come to my attention had it not been shortlisted.The setting interested me: Zimbabwe shortly after the Act of Settlement and the first free elections, when white minority rule ended and Robert Mugabe came to power. I was young but my best friend had cousins the same age as us in Zimbabwe, and so we followed developments carefully. And then the heroine captivated me. In 1978 she was 14, the same age as me and we seemed [...]

  • Karen says:

    I was pleasantly surprised by this story. It tells the tale of Lindiwe, who starts a relationship with the boy next door, who was accused of murder. He is white, she is coloured - half white half black. What happens in her teenage years impacts her later in life when Ian returns from South Africa to discover her secret, and he blows her life apart.Following the turmoil of her own situation, is the growing tension in Zimbabwe where the story is set.There is a line in the story, which I absolutely [...]

  • Booky Seattlites says:

    Engaging story of the evolution of love in post-independence Zimbabwe as the country teeters on the edge of civil war. A first novel by a writer I look forward to hearing from again. Good voice, interesting characters and a compelling story.

  • Madeleine says:

    This book is really sweet. While also managing to be hard-hitting and making me think. I like.

  • Mary says:

    maryokekereviews.

  • Amanda says:

    What a beautiful story. Loved every page, loved Lindiwe's voice and the setting. I felt like I was in the middle of a girl growing up and a country devolving.

  • Poornima says:

    It''s a good novel. Nothing spectacularly wonderful. More fast reading than anything else. Lin is often conflicted but without any deep secrets. But Ian Ian is flawed, charming, certain and uncertain at the same time. Zimbabwe as the backdrop offers hardly any deep insight into the changes that happen, and the focus is more on the unaffected individuals in the novel. It could have been set anywhere and nothing would have changed. If you want to read a book about a first love, a forever love; giv [...]

  • Susan Frazier-Kouassi says:

    I learned a lot about the history of Zimbabwe but found myself constantly disappointed with the main female character. She never seemed to really grow up and become her strong independent self, always reflecting on herself through the eyes of someone else. Maybe that is how the author wanted to characterize her. She always seem infantile and insecure to me, maybe I'm being too hard on both the author and the character she developed. Perhaps this is a thinly disguised autobiography.

  • Sarah says:

    I suspect I didn't really understand this book because I found it confusing. It was a bit like reading something that's partially written in a foreign language, some of it you can guess from context but other bits remain a mystery. It was hard work and as much as I wanted to like it I just never got into it.

  • Zaynäb BookMinimalist says:

    Towards the end of this book, it's protagonist, Lindiwe reads out loud a sign scrawled in blood, "VOTE ZANU-PF OR DIE"This story doesn't start with the tension in Zimbabwe, it begins instead with optimism at Robert Mugabe (alias Uncle Bob) ascension to power in 1980. Rhodesia just became Zimbabwe and the new president mounts the podium to give his opening speech. "Reconciliation is the best policy"14 year old Lindiwe huddled with her family, listens as the new president takes his oath, "His hand [...]

  • Kathie Wilkinson says:

    At times to difficult to understand due to the dialects used by some of the characters.

  • Anne says:

    Wow. A love story set in Zimbabwe, beginning in the time period after the new nation/name had transitioned from Rhodesia, until the dramatic economic decline of the nation became apparent.

  • Noemi says:

    Robin Miles brings yet another amazing book to life.

  • Deviki says:

    I’m not sure if anyone gave this book less than four stars……because I’m seeing mostly good reviews for this book. I think I don’t fall in that category because to me this book was not that great. In fact most of the time, I’m lost and don’t see the point to this story at all. *************SPOILERS ALERT***************I picked up this book because, when I read the synopsis I thought “oh sounds like a teen/adult mystery of a girl who is indecisive with her feeling and logic because [...]

  • Belle says:

    Sjoe the pages in this book just bubbled along singing to me. A wonderfully gripping opening line and pretty much throughout I was kept on my toes. It was so real that at times I felt like a voyeur inside the room unable to influence but so on edge I couldn't stop reading or watching. Numerous times I was skillfully knocked back by yet another twist and turn, which I hadn't seen coming, and yet each and every shock had indeed been gently weaved together by Sabatini to create this edge of your se [...]

  • Lois Blanco says:

    A glimpse into modern Zimbabwe through the fictional story of Lindiwe and Ian. The transition from colonial Rhodesia to homerule is more poignant when told in black and white contrast.

  • Pallavi says:

    A very poignant and beautifully written story – although unsettling at times. Thanks to and thanks to Orange Award for New Writers that one gets to discover writers one had never heard or known about. Irene Sabatini's debut book certainly has gotten me interested and I would love to read more of her writings. In this book, she clearly knows and understands the world she is describing - the laidback city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, right through the 1980's to the late 1990's - a place she herself [...]

  • Holly says:

    From Musings: 4 starsSet in post-colonial Zimbabwe, The Boy Next Door is the story of Lindiwe Bishop, a quiet 14-year-old girl of mixed race. She and her family live in what was previously an all-white suburb. Ian McKenzie, the boy in the title, is a few years older, of British (white) descent, and when the story opens, has just been arrested for setting his stepmother on fire. Despite, or perhaps because of, parental warnings, Lindiwe is fascinated by Ian. When he is cleared of charges and retu [...]

  • Darryl says:

    This debut novel begins in post-independence Zimbabwe, in the city of Bulawayo. Lindiwe Bishop is a 14 year old girl who is a 'lightie', a Zimbabwean of mixed descent, whose family is the first to integrate a formerly white neighborhood in the city. Their closest neighbors are the McKenzies, including their 17 year old son Ian. The McKenzies are 'Rhodies', descendants of the original British colonialists that helped to create the state of Rhodesia, who are nonplussed to find themselves out of po [...]

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