Somewhere in the US, a teenaged boy gets enticed into trouble by his girlfriend and winds up in jail, almost hurting his younger brother in the process. Their mother, Jane, who is a psychiatry professor and married to a politician, books an African trip that will take them rafting and on to a clinic – to give her older son an opportunity to do community service and the entire family a chance to reconnect.
Somewhere in Botswana, a teenaged girl, Katura, learns that her oldest brother has also been enticed into trouble and is in jail in Zimbabwe. Together with another brother, they travel across the border to try to get him released.
What happens next is the stuff of novels – innocent people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, get kidnapped and held hostage while around them there is murder, espionage, rape, Stockholm syndrome, fear, sickness, and the list goes on. The characters are as flawed as they are many, and even the treacherous political climate of Zimbabwe appears as a strong character in the novel, influencing the people to act but also not taking responsibility for their actions.
What I Liked
- I found the conversation be well written and the author’s writing style to be engaging overall
- I enjoyed the glimpse into the politics of the African nations
- I appreciated seeing female characters being portrayed in both villain and heroic roles.
- The alternating views following the different scenes where the story was playing out, provided a good timeline of events.
What I Didn’t Like
- In order to show the women as heroes, the author often portrayed the men as thoughtless, reactionary weaklings. In every situation, only women had the plans, which is not what I think women’s fiction should be about.
- It was hard to visualize the young characters because their ages weren’t explicitly stated. When we first meet Katura, the African girl, she is cast in the role of annoying baby sister who can’t keep a secret for a few minutes but days later, she appears as a seductress.
- The long introduction confused things a little. First we meet Jane in her professorial role but none of the other characters in the entire first chapter matter to the rest of the story so those first pages felt like an unnecessary distraction.
- As above, several story lines were introduced and abandoned throughout the story.
- I also don’t appreciate when authors kill off characters for no apparent reason. Some of the murders in the book felt unnecessary to the plot.
Overall, the author kept me interested enough to keep reading so I give it 2.5 stars even though I think the story could have been improved with some editing. My review might seem a bit harsh but I still recommend this book. It is available on Kindle and it is worth the read.
I received a free electronic copy of Rubbing Stones from Netgalley but all opinions are my own.
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