Bridget Krone brings us a brilliantly nuanced middle-grade novel about children and civil disobedience. Set in South Africa, Bridget was inspired by the time Gandhi spent in Pietermaritzburg and the true meaning of satyagraha, or "the quiet insistence of truth.”
Her protagonist, Mercy, lives with two doddering old foster aunts, Flora and Mary. The three are later joined by Mr. Singh, who rents the small cottage out back. A property developer is eyeing their crumbling home, one of the last on the block to resist. Poor Mercy fears losing everything –home and family– and so keeps her head down. It’s when she hears the story of the night Gandhi spent at the train station in her city and inspired his own life’s work, that she is inspired to also find her voice and take a stand.
“I didn’t want to make this a story about race…,” Bridget says. “In a way, it felt like it was almost more subversive to make this a story that didn’t deal with race… I didn’t want for the story to be about what people would expect.”
This was certainly an unexpected read for me, and delightfully so. Complex topics like culture, bullying, fear, and dementia were treated with straightforward, heartfelt simplicity. This may be a story for and about children, but I certainly took life lessons from it.
Also buzzing in and out of the story are bees, charmingly illustrated by Karen Vermeulen.
“[Bees] do these tiny little acts of daily work and aren’t aware that they’re fertilizing the world and helping us to feed ourselves; they’re just performing their job. And in a way there's a metaphor in there for us, that we must just do the work that we have to do… It all adds in some way to the overall sweetness of life.”
I truly hope you’ll experience this rich, sweet read for yourself!
Bridget Krone lives in Hilton, South Africa with her husband Anton and their two grown sons, who come home for occasional holidays. Their house is on the edge of a farm and a nature reserve and she can see cows on the hill as well as the Drakensberg mountains from her stoep.
She was an English teacher for a few years and then started writing English text books for South African schools. She still writes readers, study guides, teacher guides and text books and has also compiled poetry and short story anthologies. Learn more about Bridget at her website www.bridgetkrone.com
Facebook: Bridget Krone
Enjoy and thanks for listening!
Lisa Carter, Founder & Creative Director, Intralingo Inc.