In a tone reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith's "No 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series, this book is charming and funny and yet clearly articulates the hardships of life in present day Africa. Ten-year old Benedict moves to Swaziland from Rwanda to live with his grandparents because his parents are "late". He is enchanted by their garden - " the most beautiful garden in the whole entire world" - and happily occupies himself exploring nature and getting to know the people around him.
Benedict is a sensitive child, always trying to help others find solutions to their problems. He accepts that as "kwerekwere" (non- Swazis) his family will never be entirely accepted in the community but is determined nonetheless to find a way to make his grandmother's cake business a success.
Benedict encounters families affected by AIDS, a school friend sexually assaulted by a teacher and a range of other challenging issues endured by the people around him. Despite this, he remains positive and happy, his innocent interpretation of life often providing moments of humour in the novel. Overall a feel-good read that goes beyond the average coming of age tale.
Title: When Hoopoes go to Heaven
Author: Gaile Park
Publisher: Corvus, London