Book Club Reflection: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

8 Feb

My book club got together a few weeks ago to discuss Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. Be warned, spoilers ahead! I had enjoyed this book until the end and I was glad that most of my fellow readers liked it as well. One disliked the alternating narrators but enjoyed the story overall. A few did agree with me that the ending was a bit contrived and too many convenient things seemed to happen. After a book that had a relatively slow pace, the ending happened very fast and was a bit rushed. One reader felt that this book came off like a bit of a Nancy Drew story from Robin’s perspective and felt that was a disservice to apartheid and the horrible things that happened under the laws. With today’s political climate in America, many of us drew parallels to the Black Likes Matter movement and the push for rights and recognition that we’re still seeing today.

Robin and Beauty both craved a human connection throughout the story. After Robin lost her parents, she needed to connect to someone. Mable was the only person she thought was left in her life and she abandoned Robin. Beauty was missing her daughter and we felt Robin reminded her of a young Nomsa. Having Robin to care for gave her a second chance at motherhood and she felt she could fix any mistakes she might have made. Robin’s need to connect with Beauty was why he hit the note. She was being defensive of the love the two had formed and Robin wanted to keep it at all costs, even if it was denying Beauty of the one thing she wanted most.

Kat was a surprising element to the book. Many of us were surprised when she wasn’t real. Kat was a great sounding board for Robin. Kat let her cry and have emotions without showing them. Her mother discouraged her from showing her emotions and Kat was a coping mechanism for that. We saw a parallel between Jolene and Edith and Robin and Kat. The sisters were very different but that didn’t stop them from loving each other.

The title was such a short line in the book that we got talking about why Marais would choose it for her title. It spoke to figuring out how to keep going when you were lost. It was about blending in, faking it until you fit in, and getting through to the next thing. As one reader said, “Go along and get along.”

I’m not sure I’ll get a copy of our next book in time for the discussion so I might be missing a month of this group. Fingers crossed it comes in early and I can try. Until next time, write on.

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One Response to “Book Club Reflection: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais”

  1. Davida Chazan February 10, 2021 at 2:05 AM #

    I’ve heard good things about this one. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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