Book Review: The Other Side of Truth by Beverly Naidoo

I decided to read some African Literature this past week. At the library, I found two books with interesting blurbs; The Other Side of Truth by Beverly Naidoo and Crackdown by Njuguna Mutonya.
The Other Side of Truth by Beverly Naidoo is categorized as young adult (YA) fiction. The story begins with the brutal murder of Sade and Femi’s mother in Nigeria. Sade is only 12 years old while Femi is ten. The killers seem to have been targeting their father, a journalist who had written articles criticizing the government.The family realizes that they are in danger after receiving another threatening call. They decide to get out of Nigeria and seek safety in England. However, due to a glitch, they are unable to travel together. A plan is devised to smuggle the children into England. Things seem to go haywire from then on and nothing goes as planned.

Although this book is categorized as YA, it did have some serious themes such a murder. It also made several references to the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa. This created the background of the story depicting the dangers that lurked in Nigeria. The issue of refugees and asylum seekers was also a prevalent theme in the narrative. Through one of the characters, the issue of Somali unrest and killing of civilians is also highlighted. Surprisingly, even the issue of bullying and racism came up in the story.

I liked the book. I enjoyed the adventures of Femi and Sade in England. I also liked the angle of their father’s arrest and the fight for his release. There are parts of the book that made me uncomfortable such as the bullying of Sade. In the narratives, the other students in England disliked the African students so much hence the bullying.


“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

The two main characters in the book are likeable. Femi and Sade are young but brave and I was drawn to them right from the start. The adult characters are also good. I liked the social workers and the foster parents especially the Kings. Although the book has serious, heavy themes, it’s still an enjoyable and easy read. It’s also suited for younger readers. It introduces the themes in an easy way that makes them understandable without going too much into gory details that may be unsuitable for a YA genre.