cover image No More Strangers Now

No More Strangers Now

DK Publishing, Karen Ray, Tim McKee. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $19.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2524-9

Though their country is still bitterly divided by race, ""most South Africans seem to share an almost uncanny confidence that... a stable, vibrant nation will emerge,"" claims the author of this hope-filled volume of profiles. In their own words, 12 teens representing the country's many ethnic groups (African, Coloured, Indian and white) describe the harsh realities of their lives under apartheid and the ways things have changed since the election of President Nelson Mandela. Some of the teens hint at the complex problems their country still faces--a Coloured girl who once didn't feel ""white"" enough now doesn't feel black enough; a young activist is frustrated by his peers' lack of political involvement--but none espouses extreme positions (no white featured here still believes in apartheid, for example). Their predominantly upbeat attitude, as well as McKee's informative, if occasionally overly politically correct, introductions to each profile keep the book focused on the promise that lies ahead, rather than the difficulties. Although the composition of the black-and-white photographs tends toward the unimaginative, the soft-focus style of the portraits complements the text's optimistic tone. What carries this volume is the vitality of the teens' voices themselves, and their impassioned debate of universal issues of poverty, racism, faith and reconciliation. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)