It’s amazing how sheltered I am. I remember reading The Kite Runner years ago and being shocked how little I knew about that conflict. And I know next to nothing about the conflicts in Africa. Michael Williams’ YA novel Now is the Time For Running doesn’t spend too much time talking about the politics of the conflict, but readers will soon understand the chaos and devastation it causes.
Fifteen-year-old Deo lives with his amai (mother), grandfather (Grandpa Longdrop), and older brother, Innocent. Innocent is 25, but he is ‘different’. His impairment is never specified, but it hardly matters. Deo looks out for his big brother.
Deo lives in Gutu, Zimbabwe. He spends his spare time playing soccer with a ball his grandfather made for him.
It is no proper soccer ball. It is a pouch of cow-leather patches sewn together with twine, stuffed with tightly rolled plastic.
It’s clear that circumstances are dire for Deo and his family. When soldiers roll into their village and demand that the villagers bring them their food, Deo thinks “Does he not know we have nothing, that there is no food here?”
The situation between Deo’s village and these soldiers soon escalates and Deo and Innocent suddenly find themselves running for their lives.
Now is the Time for Running follows Deo and Innocent as they try to make their way to the relative safety of South Africa, where they think their father is currently living and working. It is a perilous journey and it is difficult to know who to trust. Deo is an engaging and sympathetic narrator and you will want to know that he and Innocent arrive safely, but safety is a rare commodity.
I was wholly invested in Deo and whipped through this book in record time. It would certainly appeal to anyone looking for a fast-paced story about survival, students who like soccer and anyone interested in social justice.