Saturday, January 25, 2014

Reflections of the Heart

Author: Tsungi Chiwara
Published: 17 June 2013
Genre: Christian Fiction
Pinky's Rating (out of 5): 4 dragonflies

Book Description

Each page of ‘Reflections of the heart, a story of hope’ will leave you wondering what will happen next. The opening scene is in a hospital setting and this immediately lets the reader know that something has happened. You are immediately hooked and must continue reading in order to discover what led to the state of affairs presented. This intense and gripping book centres on the somewhat cushioned life of an African girl, Kui, who grows up in pre and post-independent Zimbabwe. She was born in the early 70’s during the liberation struggle, although she was oblivious to that because she was young and her parents lived in the city. The exciting thing about the story is that the reader goes on a journey with Kui from the beginning.

The first few chapters are a detailed narrative, laying a foundation for the story by describing Kui’s background and upbringing. This entails giving an account of her years in primary school, her family life and her friendships. Of note is the particular focus on her high school years which are spent at a top notch boarding school. At some stage there is an introduction to Kui’s love life, which adds a romantic twist to the novel. This is all important in understanding who Kui is and setting the context of the novel. 

The story evolves and becomes progressively conversational. It highlights Kui’s experiences as the years progress culminating to the events that led to her life reaching rock bottom. Somehow through it all God enters the picture, but will Kui take this life line? A significant portion of the book focuses on the soul-searching and turmoil within Kui’s heart, which she keeps to herself. However the reader is able to have insight of Kui’s mind and feelings through her thoughts and diary entries. As a result there is a glimpse into how the mind of a teenager works. 

Several interesting and enjoyable characters are introduced as the story evolves and this enriches the story. One particular person that enters Kui’s life has a life-changing impact on her, though at first this seems unlikely. This person seems to be at peace with herself and this is what Kui longs for. Kui eventually discovers that this peace comes from a relationship with God. There is an aura about this key character that no doubt also fascinates those who read on and continue the journey with Kui.

The story and characters may be fictitious but the emotions and feelings of rejection, low self-esteem, little self-worth, depression, disappointment and pain are very real. Each reader will be able to identify with one or more of these, resulting in them relating to the story and being irreversibly touched and truly impacted. The story touches on a wide range of very relevant and timeless topics. These include social concerns such as the discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS, the differing social classes and racism. Family dynamics have a strong theme in the story, including the impact of a father’s neglect on a growing girl. Issues of the heart are woven into the story in the form of teenage love and betrayal. 

The book will also inevitably appeal to a wider audience such as those who like boarding school type novels, novels with a diary or memoir flair, romance and a bit of humour. 

It is primarily for readers needing encouragement, motivation, inspiration, hope and searching for answers and a purpose in life.

This is a very rich and entertaining story about life, finding God and becoming at peace with oneself. It engages the reader who will inevitably find themselves reflecting on their own life. The novel is indeed a page turner!

My Thoughts

Reflections of the Heart conveys a very powerful message. 

We are taken on a journey through the life of Kui a teenage girl from a middle class coloured family as she experiences life in Zimbabwe during the 1970's and 80's. 

The story has been written almost as if we are reading Kui's most intimate stories and feelings as written in her diary as she tells of life at home, growing up with her twin brothers and then at boarding school as she comes to the realisation that her father has no time for girls.

We are given a glaringly honest insight into HIV and AIDS as well as the mental fragility of a teenager struggling to fit into a world that is ever changing around them. While the messages in this story stem from an earlier decade they are still as important to today's generation as they were back then.

This is a story of struggles for Kui, both cultural and spiritual as she learns who she is and what she is to become with the help of an understanding relative who teaches her how to love herself, so that others can love her.

While I enjoyed the story, towards the end I found myself skimming paragraphs instead of reading them fully. I felt it was a little too long and that the message once gotten across needed no further explanations.


Tsungi Chiwara has kindly donated an e-copy of Reflections of the Heart to one lucky reader of this review.

All you need to do to enter is post a comment below to go into the draw. It's that easy!

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