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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rubbing Stones by Nancy Burkey

Title: Rubbing Stones
Author: Nancy Burkey
Publisher: 1 December 2016 by Nancy Burkey
Pages: 247 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: thriller, culture-Africa
My Rating: 3 crowns


Dr. Jane O’Neil, an American psychiatry professor, books her family on a rafting trip down the Zambezi River, seeking redirection and reconnection with her troubled son.

Katura Masaku, a smart but impulsive teenager in Botswana, sneaks across the border to Victoria Falls, naively confident she can rescue her wrongfully-arrested older brother.

Her optimism is crushed by a corrupt police department that’s willing to punish the innocent. And Jane’s river trip ends violently with a hijacking that turns into an extended hostage situation. Zimbabwe’s political chaos, not to mention the jungle itself, puts both Jane and Katura in danger.

Will they succumb to their desperation, or find the courage to make it home?

Rubbing Stones is an emotionally-charged debut novel about two families from opposite corners of the world, thrown together in a place where political and personal currents are more dangerous than the Zambezi that threatens to drown them.

How far will they go to save the ones they love?

My Thoughts

“I carry rubbing stones in my pockets .... roll them around slowly. All your troubles will go away. It’s like you’ve got a secret and no one knows you’re worried. You can stand there calm and cool while all your fears go into those three little rocks just rolling between your fingers. It’s the power of secrets.”

An interesting short narrative surrounding a harrowing cultural experience for a contemporary American family holidaying in Africa. Family is definitely the main theme surrounding this story - what it means to be part of one with the love and commitment involved. The actions of some characters are, at times, a little unbelievable, especially given the great strain of being involved in a hostage experience, but it’s a story so you run with it.

Being a short story (less that 250 pages), meant that many characters and situations were a little underdone, lacking the necessary depth for full emergence and appreciation. For example, the plot centres around the political situation in Zimbabwe, however, not enough detail is provided to portray the tension between the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and Robert Mugabe’s ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union). Likewise, the politically motivated hostage takers were lacking depth which was essential if we were to understand their desperation. I felt that there was not enough background information on most people and one was left with questions regarding what happened to some of the characters. I got the main gist of what the reasons were, but not in depth enough to make me feel the cause.

The story is interesting  from the point of view on how people cope in a crisis - both hostages and hostage takers - how they work the situation in the camp and their schemes to find a way out. Disappointingly however, I found the conclusion not fitting to the whole premise of the story and just too much left unresolved or inconclusive for my liking.

“What happens if you change your mind? What if you realize down the road that it was just easier to lie, that it was selfish, not really in anyone’s best interest but your own?”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

1 comment:

Mystica said...

It sounded like the basis for a great story. Pity it didn't quite work out.