Canadian, Realistic Fiction, Coming-of-age, Social Commentary
The opening scene of Chanda’s Secrets sets the tone for a novel that delicately and sometimes not so delicately tackles the issue of AIDS in Africa. Chanda, the 16-year-old protagonist, is at the local undertakers, making funeral arrangements for her one and a half year old sister Sara. She’s still in shock, but as the eldest child, it’s up to Chanda to take care of the sad task.
Chanda has been challenged by many ups and downs in life, including the death of her father and eldest brothers, and rape from her mother’s boyfriend. Despite this, Chanda is determined to rebuild a life with her mother and younger siblings Iris and Soly. Yet at every turn Chanda’s spirit and determination is tested. Will she be able to overcome the oppression, the poverty and the disease that threatens to consume her family?
A decidedly hopeful, optimistic novel of perseverance, determination and loyalty. Chanda is a realistic character, whose hopes and dreams we can all identify with.
The shame and ostracism surrounding HIV/AIDS in Africa was a shocking reminder of what happens when people’s most basic needs for health care and education are neglected. In Chanda and her neighbours we see a willfulness to survive, and a stubborn denial of an unspoken disease that so many are afflicted with.
Chanda is a hero in this novel and I look forward to continuing her story in Chanda’s Wars.
Borrow Chanda’s Secrets from your local VPL library today! If you’ve read this book before, don’t forget to let me know me know your thoughts!