Abuse, through the eyes of a child

2010-03-03 00:00

THIS novel is the first-person narrative of young Theresa, known as Terry, who tells of her earliest memories of growing up in Johannesburg in the sixties and seventies through to adolescence. The story is essentially that of growing up in a dysfunctional family shaped in an apartheid South Africa­.

The strength of telling a story through the eyes of a child is that the narrative­ has an intensity that is seemingly unmediated. Terry’s account is lively and her observations keen. Her self-centred, alcoholic mother, Lizette, and especially her stepfather, Piet, are brought to violent life, and her descriptions of Johannesburg streets and suburbs are graphic.

But Terry’s family is worse than dysfunctional. Despite her intelligence, optimism and resilience that propels her story forward, despite the limited support she gets from some friends and adults — particularly from the family’s domestic worker, Sophie, whose anxiety turns to her own son who becomes involved in the student uprising of 1976 — the abuse that Terry suffers is relentless.

Through Terry, the author, a public interest lawyer who works with NGOs focusing on children’s and women’s rights, is able to provide insight into what it feels like to grow up with parents who not only neglect their children, but who are are actively cruel.

Sections of the book have a remarkable authenticity and are consequently harrowing. Not only is Terry abused by her parents but she is also betrayed by many adults who are in a position to help her.

In the acknowledgments at the end of the book, Emdon thanks the courageous­ women who allowed her into their lives as they permitted her to interview them, and she singles­ out one woman in particular whose story was perhaps the greatest inspiration.

In this novel, Emdon is able to give these women a voice. It is to be hoped that adults in positions similar to the relatives, teachers and others who failed to protect Terry, are able to listen­.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.