Prime logo Prime members: New to Audible?
Get 2 free audiobooks during trial.
Pick 1 audiobook a month from our unmatched collection.
Listen all you want to thousands of included audiobooks, Originals, and podcasts.
Access exclusive sales and deals.
Premium Plus auto-renews for $14.95/mo after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Hum If You Don't Know the Words  By  cover art

Hum If You Don't Know the Words

By: Bianca Marais
Narrated by: Katharine Lee McEwan,Bahni Turpin
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $17.80

Buy for $17.80

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

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

Critic reviews

“Radiant...a stirring ode to a country’s painful maturation.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

“Richly drawn...[The characters’] journeys and eventual love poignantly demonstrate that nothing is simply black or white.” (USA Today)

“In this standout debut Marais handles topics such as grief and racism with a delicate intensity that will make readers fall in love with her characters. From the first few heartfelt chapters to a fast-paced and heart-wrenching ending, Marais has created a stunning historical drama that shouldn’t be missed.” (Publishers Weekly

What listeners say about Hum If You Don't Know the Words

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    297
  • 4 Stars
    92
  • 3 Stars
    22
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    300
  • 4 Stars
    52
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    5
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    264
  • 4 Stars
    80
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Completely wrong accents

This audio was SUCH a disappointment that I had to return it and go with the kindle version instead.
I still want to read the story, but the accents were SO OFF.
Robin’s narrator is Australian. Not South African. She cannot pronounce any of the Afrikaans words or town names. She cannot even pronounce “South Africa” with a South African accent. Horrendous. Unlistenable.
Beauty’s narration was a mix of American and Northern African accents.
South Africa has some wonderful actors and narrators. Why not use South Africans to re-tell a story about South Africans???

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • KP
  • 06-14-20

Starts a little slow but worth the wait!!

Historical fiction set during apartheid in South Africa at the time of the Soweto uprising (1976), told through two very different lenses from two excellent narrators. After a bit of a slow start, the story developed to be quite absorbing, as well as disturbing. Makes me want to read more about the history.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Please pick a different narrator for your South African books.

As a South African, I had a very hard time listening to Katherine McEwan not only mangle South African English, but completely butchering the Afrikaans parts. It was so distracting that it took away from a story that is actually really good. You may want to consider a redo with a South African narrator.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Deeply disappointing

Oh how deeply disappointing. I bought this beautiful South African book and was delighted and excited. I checked the narrators resumes and I should have then mistrusted the quality of this listen.
Both narrators have been let down by their voice coaches too. These are neither of them in any way South African accents.

A good book sounds appalling in my ears. I want to support authors from Africa, and am an Audible addict, but I can't listen to this.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So beautiful and well read.

A moving story of love, strength and courage. The narrators were excellent. Enjoyed every minute.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Nature Of Love

I listened to If You Want to Make God Laugh and loved it so much, I decided to give this a try. I wasn't as immediately engrossed in this one as I was the other, but then I was. The last chapter almost had me in tears. What a wonderful story of how love can transform and change the heart. Can't wait for the next one.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Heartbreakingly beautiful

This book, is a true MUST READ!
It is an original story that paints vivid pictures and forces you to question your own integrity towards people of color.

I love, love, love this book.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

EXTRAORDINARY!

This book is a wonderful story about a very disturbing subject. The narrators were spectacular. When the character of Beauty tries to explain her grief over losing her husband to 10 year old Robin, her explanation was so insightful, and touched so closely upon my own grief experience over losing my own husband, that I re-listened and transcribed it so I could easily read it at any time. I have read a lot about grief, but Beauty summed it up like no one else I have heard yet. The ending told the reader they would be hearing more about the characters, so I am anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful