A very enjoyable read that occasionally veered to far in the direction of sentimental, and on other occasions in the direction of over drama I m glad to have read it though because it gave me a rich and complicated picture of rural South African culture under apartheid. Fiela s Child is a great novel It s perfect for high school students It s on the Prescribed Literature in Translation list IB It makes use of my favorite narrative technique, free indirect speech with multiple perspectives And what s , all of the complicated racial issues are in the backdrop It sabout a boy finding out who he is I highly recommend this novel. I usually immediately sit down and fire off a review upon finishing a book However, I needed time to ruminate on this one I needed to let the book simmer in my mind In a way, I just couldn t think of anything to say about this book beyond simple gushing Sometimes I feel like my enjoyment and appreciation of a book is inversely proportionate to the number of words I can find to describe it.In rural South Africa, three year old boy Lukas van Rooyen wanders into the forest, becomes lost, and pr I usually immediately sit down and fire off a review upon finishing a book However, I needed time to ruminate on this one I needed to let the book simmer in my mind In a way, I just couldn t think of anything to say about this book beyond simple gushing Sometimes I feel like my enjoyment and appreciation of a book is inversely proportionate to the number of words I can find to describe it.In rural South Africa, three year old boy Lukas van Rooyen wanders into the forest, becomes lost, and presumed dead It s a rough terrain populated by bigfeet elephants who some believe trample humans in a calculated, predatory way No child could survive On the other side of a vast mountain range, a white boy appearing to be about three years old shows up on the door step of Fiela, a black woman whose husband is in jail She takes the boy in, calling him Benjamin, and raises him as a hand child given to her by God Understanding the complications inherent in a black family caring for a white child, Fiela keeps the boy relatively hidden he doesn t attend church or school with the other children Despite Fiela s caution, Benjamin s existence in the Komoetie family is thrown into question when two census takers arrive at the farm, see a white child living with this black family, and remember the story of a boy being lost in the forest six years before The men take Benjamin to the regional magistrate who summons Barta van Rooyen When Barta points to Benjamin in a lineup, he is given back to the van Rooyen family Now Lukas again, and not Benjamin Like Alan Paton s Cry, the Beloved Country my 3 favorite book of all time , this evocative novel is firmly rooted in the land of South Africa its beauty, its brutality, the duality of its ability to both give and take away life As in many books I deeply love, the landscape becomes a character, literally and metaphorically separating Benjamin Komoetie from Lukas van Rooyen, separating Fiela from her hand child The novel is also incredibly moving Matthee s Fiela jumps to life, coming off of the page and making the reader s heart break along with hers as she loses Benjamin I cried multiple times reading this book not something that often occurs in my reading Yes, Fiela s Child is a book about race and class, butimportantly it s an incredible example of a story about the meaning of ones identity, the things that define a person, and love above all else GO READ THIS BOOK I read this book in English Fiela s Child I loved this book so much, I think it will be next year s summer reading assignment Translated from Africaans to English, the story is set in South Africa in the late 19th century The story opens set in a heavy forest where the primary mode of earning a living is through timber At the beginning, a four year old boy wanders off and is lost in the heavy fog and thick forest There are frequent references to the bigfeet, as the elephants are called I read this book in English Fiela s Child I loved this book so much, I think it will be next year s summer reading assignment Translated from Africaans to English, the story is set in South Africa in the late 19th century The story opens set in a heavy forest where the primary mode of earning a living is through timber At the beginning, a four year old boy wanders off and is lost in the heavy fog and thick forest There are frequent references to the bigfeet, as the elephants are called Actually, the elephants almost become a character in the book The story fast forwards to seven years later to a farm on the other side of the mountains that separate farming land from the forest Fiela, an extremely determined and loving brown woman, had found a young white boy on her steps and raised him with her own children When census takers, whom Fiela calls peace breakers, come to her farm, they notice the child Essentially, the boy is taken from her and given to the white family across the mountains.The setting of this novel is critical to its storyline, not just because of racial issues, but because of the land The elephants and ostriches, the mountains and the forest, even the unforgiving sea, all become critical to the story It is very hard to like the white family, the Van Rooyens, since the father is presented as quite cruel Part of you wishes the child was not theirs It is Fiela s deep love for the child that causes her to maintain that he is not, in fact, the Van Rooyens child even though she knows nothing of his new life with them Racial issues prevent her side of the story from being heard in the all white court Until the boy, known to Fiela as Benjamin and to the Van Rooyens as Lukas, grows up, it is unclear whose child he is.This is a lovely story, and although I got a bit distracted by the love story at the very end, I would put it on the must read list of anyone You will never think of elephants and ostriches the same way again Die bruin vrou Fiela Komoetie het haar wit vondelingkind Benjamin met liefde en trots grootgemaak, tot die dag dat die sensusmanne hom kom haal hetJare later is dit Benjamin Lukas self wat worstel met die vraag wie is ek All that Benjamin has known is life in the forest with Fiela as his mother Never mind that his skin is white and hers is colored Then the census takers come and take Benjamin, stating he is the child that went missing nine years before Benjamin s entire identity is shattered as he is forced to live with another family and call them Ma and Pa As an adult, he searches for his true identity It took me awhile to get into this one, but I suspect that was because of schedule and having a week All that Benjamin has known is life in the forest with Fiela as his mother Never mind that his skin is white and hers is colored Then the census takers come and take Benjamin, stating he is the child that went missing nine years before Benjamin s entire identity is shattered as he is forced to live with another family and call them Ma and Pa As an adult, he searches for his true identity It took me awhile to get into this one, but I suspect that was because of schedule and having a week gap between starting and readingBut once I could devote the time to it, I couldn t put it down Reading this after Circles in a Forest was like revisiting an old friend many of the same place names are mentioned The descriptions put you right there I m wondering if any of her other books are available in English If they re anything like Circles or this one, they ve got to be excellent A really good and different story about a poor black faring family in South Africa bringing up a lost white child. Do you know who I am, Ma He was so calm, like one in pain and hiding it You re a lamb that was deserted and put into Fiela Komoeti s care by God then others came and messed it up with a stupid story I didn t mean to upset you like this Don t turn away, Benjamin We must talk this over properly. A story of two families as different as they could be, and a court that wasn t as wise as Solomon when asked to choose between two women claiming the same child Fiela Komoetie, living on the open veld, raised her white hand child adopted child Benjamin with all the love she gave her other children, and then some, though half knowing that the government wasn t going to allow the child to stay with her when they found out At the other end of a landscape of contrasts, in a dark forest, lived A story of two families as different as they could be, and a court that wasn t as wise as Solomon when asked to choose between two women claiming the same child Fiela Komoetie, living on the open veld, raised her white hand child adopted child Benjamin with all the love she gave her other children, and then some, though half knowing that the government wasn t going to allow the child to stay with her when they found out At the other end of a landscape of contrasts, in a dark forest, lived Barta Van Rooyen who would eventually claim Benjamin The contrast between Fiela s pride and dignity and Barta s family s scrabbling, violent, fearful lives was equally great This was a memorable portrait of the natural world of 19th century South Africa, with its forests, elephants, ostriches, and birdsongs, already passing away under the axes and plows As a depiction of the social world of the time, it wasparticularistic, taking in only a few families The author wasinterested, I think, in exploring Benjamin s identity crisis, unable to identify with the family he d been told was his when taken to the forest a crisis she brought to a height by the rather obvious plot device of having him fall in love with his sister She was also interested in reflecting on the power of a woman , the instinct of love and protection as she sees it, so lacking in weak Barta I picked this up in the airport in Johannesburg, in preparation for the long 14 hour flight home It grabbed me at once The story takes place in South Africa in the late 19th century, and judging from the acknowledgements and list of sources, the story has some basis in fact A young white boy appears at the doorstep of Fiela, a coloured woman who takes him in and raises him as her own About the same time, the son of a white woodcutter strays into the forest and is never found Years later, a I picked this up in the airport in Johannesburg, in preparation for the long 14 hour flight home It grabbed me at once The story takes place in South Africa in the late 19th century, and judging from the acknowledgements and list of sources, the story has some basis in fact A young white boy appears at the doorstep of Fiela, a coloured woman who takes him in and raises him as her own About the same time, the son of a white woodcutter strays into the forest and is never found Years later, a census taker discovers Fiela s child and insists he must be taken from her because of the child s different race The question becomes Is Benjamin really the woodcutter s son The plot goes back and forth between the two families A reviewer on.com says, This is a story told with great sensitivity of the life style of the people who inhabited the Cape in the mid 1800 s It is a compelling book, heart wrenching at times, humorous at times, but always it gives the reader a feel for what was happening in the hearts of the people involved This book could be described a bit like a prison, because once it gets hold of you, it doesn t let go, not until it has finished with you, and not you with it