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The Dubious Salvation of Jack V.

The Dubious Salvation of Jack V.  is South African Jack Strauss' debut novel of 11-year-old Jack growing up in apartheid South Africa. As one reviewer writes, "Childhood innocence can be hilarious. And brutal. This searing debut by a young South African writer captures the grotesque horror of apartheid in daily life." Strauss' novel takes the issue of apartheid indirectly. For Jack, politics is not an issue. The story is a light read, definitely aimed at young adult readers. Jack narrates the novel, looking back from an older age. The premise of the story is how, at the age of eleven, he “betrayed Susie, our housekeeper, my friend, my second mother.” He gives readers a sense of what South Africa was like under the last days of apartheid (though that word is never mentioned in the novel). It is very interesting to see this through a child's eye; children have different a perspective from adults on the way the world works. Change may have been imminent, but there were still housewives in Jack’s neighborhood in a white part of Johannesburg who said, “A dishwashing machine? What would I need with one of those? All you need is a little black magic.” The story really revolves around Jack and Susie, his housekeeper. Overall, an easy young adult read. Rating: ★★★★

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