Review: Stones for my Father by Trilby Kent

Corlie Roux’s farm life in South Africa is not easy: the Transvaal is beautiful, but it is also a harsh place where the heat can be so intense that the very raindrops sizzle. When her beloved father dies, she is left with a mother who is as devoted to her sons as she is cruel to her daughter. Despite this, Corlie finds solace in her friend, Sipho, and in Africa itself and in the stories she conjures for her brothers.
But Corlie’s world is about to vanish: the British are invading and driving Boer families like hers from their farms. Some escape into the bush to fight the enemy. The unlucky ones are rounded up and sent to internment camps.

Will Corlie’s resilience and devotion to her country sustain her through the suffering and squalor she finds in the camp at Kroonstad? That may depend on a soldier from faraway Canada and on inner resources Corlie never dreamed she had….

As a lover of historical fiction I knew that I had to read Stones for my Father when it was pitched to me and overall I liked the story. I loved how short this book was; (I managed to read it in a one single bath and I didn't come out all pruney and the water was still quite warm!) this also meant that the story was purely about Corlie's struggle meaning that even though I still learnt about the Boer war, I didn't have to try to follow any complicated politics or anything.

Corlie was a fantastic character with an honest voice. Whilst most of the time she seemed her age - twelve or thirteen, she also had times where we saw how the war and her mothers treatment had forced her to act like an adult. The character of Corlie's mum was well written and utterly unlikable, we're later given a backstory to why she dislikes Corlie but I still didn't really sympathise. I loved Byrne, the soldier who helps Corlie through brief appearances in the story, he gave Corlie a way to see the soldiers as people and show the reader both sides to the war. I also loved Gert, Corlie's funny and clever younger brother.

I felt that the narrative was okay, but nothing great and at times Kent seemed to slip into parts where she was explaining things too much and it bored me a little, there were times when things were thrown in the cover the plot holes or explain something foreign and it kind of threw the narrative off balance for a while. the pacing was okay as well, but I would have liked a little more confrontation as it went a little slow for me.

Overall, this book was enjoyable enough and had a fantastic group of characters and great description, however the writing wasn't something that I found particularly good and would maybe appeal to the target audience of young/preteens more than young adult.

Overall rating: C

Book released on March 22nd 2011 by Tundra books.
Book released from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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