As if Born to You

Book Review: As if Born to You by Susan Newham-Blake

As if Born to You
Genre & Themes:

Local Fiction

Main themes – Family ; Racial divides ; Adoption ; Alcoholism

Minor themes – Grief ; Morality ; Loss ; Poverty ; Social altruism

When thirteen-year-old Zuri begins cutting herself, psychologist Ana is called in to help. Is the troubled girl trying to relieve the tension of being black in a predominantly white private school? And how healthy is Zuri’s relationship with Helen, the white single mom who adopted her?
Struggling to soften Zuri’s defences during the course of her therapy, Ana must piece together the puzzles of both Helen and her daughter, including the truth of what happened to Zuri’s birth mother.
But reckless, alcoholic Ana carries within her an old trauma of her own.
The Characters:

Zuri is a young girl who is struggling to come to terms with who she is as a person. There’s a definite social dissonance. She feels too black for the white kids and not black enough for the black kids so where does she fit in? That racial confusion that may have been in the background as a little kid now comes to the forefront of her life as a teenager.

Helen is a single mum who is raising Zuri to the best of her ability but their bond is starting to crumble as their differences become more pronounced. There is also something that Helen has been hiding for the past 13 years but nothing stays a secret forever.

Ana is my favourite character. I started off wondering how this alcoholic psychologist could possibly help her patients but you really get a sense of her as a person as you keep reading. It makes one remember that you really don’t know what happens behind closed doors or what emotional burdens people could be walking around with. She is equal parts jaded and naive and it is painful to watch her struggle. For me, Ana’s story is what lingered with me once the book was done and it left me feeling so sad. There is a special place in my heart for books that make me reflect and appreciate my own life.

My thoughts:

This was the first novel that I have read by a local author (and yes, I am ashamed to type that) and I can say with confidence that it competes at an international level. There are layers to this book that slowly unravel as the story progresses. The themes are so relevant to our South African context where a number of black babies are adopted into white families on a regular basis so it is interesting to get some insight as to how this could potentially impact the kids later on. Teenage years are usually the most difficult, finding out who you are as a separate entity to your parents. This novel touches on the subject delicately but with great insight.

At first glance the title ‘As if Born to You’ seems to be about Zuri’s story of adoption. Later on you realise that it’s so much more than that and there are actually a number of parent-child relationships in the story that could easily be the focus of the title. I did say that the story has layers!

I really hope that there is a sequel to this book because we are left with so many unanswered questions at the end. That being said, one of the biggest questions are answered in a way you won’t expect. I definitely did NOT see it coming and I’m still shattered. There’s so much I still want to know about and Zuri’s and Helen’s life going forward. Here’s hoping that Susan Newham-Blake takes pity on us and writes a follow up



Want it? Of course you do! Buy it now – the book is currently on special at Takealot for R199. Click here.

My lovely friend Simone from An Ordinary Gal is my book buddy once more and you can read her review of the book here. She even interviewed the author because she’s totes professional like that!

Thank you to Penguin Random House South Africa for the opportunity to review this new release. All reviews are my own thoughts on the book.

If you are looking for more book reviews, you can have a peek at my bookshelf for more great reads.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: As if Born to You by Susan Newham-Blake

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s