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Publisher's 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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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  • Millie
  • Helotes, TX, United States
  • 11-24-17

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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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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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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  • Judy
  • Cleburne, TX, United States
  • 09-22-17

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!

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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.

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Best of the Summer

Where does Hum If You Don't Know the Words rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top three

Any additional comments?

The narration was superb. This is definitely one that is better as an audio.

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Riveting, funny and pertinent!

Brilliantly written. Great use of language and humour. I loved the story and look forward to the follow up.

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Fantastic Story

What a beautiful story told about the turmoil of a 10-year old white girl and a 50-year old black lady during the apartheid years in South Africa. I had moments of laughter and sorrow ... beautiful!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Cedric
  • 08-28-17

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!