At the height of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, a boy must face life decisions that test what he believes—and call for no turning back.
South Africa, 1976. Joshua lives with his mother in the maid’s room, in the backyard of their wealthy white employers’ house in the city by the sea. He doesn’t quite understand the events going on around him. But when he rescues a stranger and riots begin to sweep the country, Joshua has to face the world beneath—the world deep inside him—to make heartbreaking choices that will change his life forever. Genuine and quietly unflinching, this beautifully nuanced novel from a veteran journalist captures a child’s-eye view of the struggle that shaped a nation and riveted the world.
Janice Warman is a South African–born journalist whose career spans the Observer, the Guardian, the Spectator, the Daily Mail, and the BBC. She has published two nonfiction books for adults, including The Class of ’79, about three students who risked their lives to help abolish apartheid. She lives in England.
A good complement to nonfiction about apartheid South Africa, a little-explored place and period in children's literature.
Set in 1970s South Africa, this tale is about Joshua, a young boy struggling to survive the racial legacy of apartheid...the work serves to address a critical aspect of world history and can be a valuable addition to school libraries.
—School Library Journal
Through the eyes of an innocent boy trying to fathom the injustice and brutality of apartheid, as well as his own potentially violent role in the struggle, Warman presents a gripping personal portrait of a horrific chapter in South Africa’s history.
In this slim, tightly constructed novel, Warman stays true to the narrow perspective of the naive country boy observing an uprising in a city he scarcely knows.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The succinct and specific prose will transport readers to a pivotal moment in history...Through a child’s eyes, Warman perfectly captures the discovery of white privilege and the intentional creation of two distinct worlds just as their dividers come crumbling down.
South African journalist Janice Warman introduces young readers to that terrifying circumstance in “The World Beneath,” a humane and thoughtful exploration of a young Xhosa boy’s political awakening...Spanning two turbulent years, this novel for readers 11 and older movingly depicts moments of moral courage in a society on the edge of violent upheaval.
—The Wall Street Journal