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You Will Be Safe Here    by Damian Barr order for
You Will Be Safe Here
by Damian Barr
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Two stories set in South Africa detail the miseries of the Boer Wars and their legacy, felt even today. A mother and her six-year-old son are taken by the British from their farm, to be interned in a camp where they 'will be safe.' In our time, a teenager, whose parents are concerned that he will turn out properly, enroll him in a camp for boys run by a former Boer soldier.

Both stories are very moving. In the first one, we read the mother's diary. She writes to her husband, who is away fighting. We see her grapple with her fate as she learns whom she can and cannot trust, but above all we feel her love for her son. The second story shows how the teenager must deal with his own insecurities in addition to the very precarious life around him - a loving but aging grandmother, a male figure who cares more for his mom than for her boy, and makes that very clear to both. The background of these stories is so different yet so well portrayed.

While the two stories are definitely connected, the thread is very thin. But the heart is there, and the research that went into this book is felt. This is a very assured first novel from a fine writer.

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