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Summary

Perfect for fans of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help, a perceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a 10-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband's death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred...until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin's parents are left dead and Beauty's daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.

Told through Beauty's and Robin's alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum If You Don't Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.

©2017 Bianca Marais (P)2017 Penguin Audio

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Astonishing

This book is captivating and tells a very gripping story about SA's troubled past and what is still struggles with in the present!

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  • Julie W. Capell
  • 29-01-18

Two narrators make for a great listen

Great audiobook, using two different narrators to represent the two main characters. Being able to hear the story in the alternating voices of the Black African mother, Beauty, who is searching for her daughter, and that of the White African girl, Robin, who has lost her family, made this an extra-special experience. The ending was perfect. I look forward to the next book written by Bianca Marais.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Cimoreka
  • 23-08-17

It is just a bit not believable

The story starts fine. Beauty's story is believable but as far as Robin, the 10 year old, she just has thoughts and does things that an adult reader will find hard to buy into. It seems like it is more an adventure/spy novel for a tween/teen than a serious adult novel about apartheid.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • cheryl C. Valente
  • 19-09-18

Hum

Deeply moving story of life under apartheid, and a brave young girl’s coming of age.

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  • Med
  • 20-03-18

An Outstanding Experience

I think readers will be surprised by this wonderful book. Written from the vantage of a young girl and a South African woman, you'll be surprised by how their relationship evolves during apartheid. You'll enjoy the audio experience for the rich performances of the two narrators. I highly recommend this book however you choose to experience this work.

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  • Beverley
  • 16-01-18

Magnificent book about the country I love.

Coming from South Africa, I truly loved and appreciated this wonderful story, which touched my heart and brought back both beautiful and painful memories. While this book highlights the racial discrimination, anti-Semitism and prejudice towards homosexuality that was part of those times, it also highlights the force and power of love that crossed those lines. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, and it is hard to say goodbye to them. This book brought me to both laughter and tears. Thank you for this fantastic story about our beautiful rainbow nation. I can only hope for a sequel.

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  • A.C.
  • 21-12-17

Powerful and moving

What did you love best about Hum If You Don't Know the Words?

Everything. This book made me laugh and cry and get angry and rejoice. I wished it would never end.

What does Katharine McEwan and Bahni Turpin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The book takes place in South Africa so the accents are extremely important ~ and the narrators nailed it! So fun to listen to the different accents of the many characters. They were both phenomenal.

Who was the most memorable character of Hum If You Don't Know the Words and why?

All of them, You wanted to know them better. From the key players to the smaller characters. They all added something to the story.

Any additional comments?

This book was my favorite yet. Of the 57 books in my collection thus far, this is the one that I will recommend over and over. It was truly moving, yet fun and uplifting.

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  • Millie
  • 24-11-17

So, so

Not enough substance and many unbelievable situations and dialogues from a ten year old child. Just an ok story.

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  • Jill Berkowitz
  • 22-11-17

Wonderful story. Dreadful accents

I am an exSouth African. For the most part the accents were fine but there were crucial words like ‘braai’ that were so mangled as to be unrecognizable. Surely there might be an editor who can check pronunciation?

The book was very good it took me back to such a painful time that I often found myself weeping.

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  • snowpatch100
  • 16-10-17

Miss the characters already

I must admit, I purchased this book based on the title and cover which are great. But there is so much more inside. I'm lost now that I have finished listening to this audiobook. What am I going to read next? I fell in love with the characters, and want to hear more of their stories. The narrators were superb and I loved the inclusion of Beauty's native tongue. All in all probably the best audiobook in my vast collection.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-09-17

Best book I read all year!

loved it! But why do they have to include all the f word's and cuss words. the book would have been perfect it your app could beep out the F Words at least. the story would have been just as believable! I could not turn it off!