cover image When Morning Comes

When Morning Comes

Arushi Raina. Tradewind (Orca, dist.), $10.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-926890-14-2

This fictionalized account of a student uprising that began in Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, unfolds through the first-person narratives of four young adults from different backgrounds whose lives intersect. An African student, Zanele, secretly organizes the protest against the Afrikaans Medium Decree Act, which required the use of English and Afrikaans (“the language of the oppressors”) in schools. Her apolitical friend Thabo heads a local gang, extorting money from an Indian store owner, whose daughter Meena, is sympathetic to the students. Meanwhile, Jack, a white Afrikaner, meets, befriends, and comes to love Zanele. Unlikely alliances develop and shift among the four protagonists, each of whom feels pressure from loved ones to conform to expectations. Raina’s story powerfully demonstrates the high stakes of the teenagers’ choices while maintaining a bracing pace that builds steady tension. Each character’s distinct voice contributes to a sense of imminent change; in Zanele’s words, “Morning was coming, and it seemed as if I’d waited for this a long, long time—longer even than I’d been alive.” A riveting and accomplished debut. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)