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The story revolves around Shifa and Themba, a sibling duo who are relentlessly exploited under harsh circumstances. Kairos City is not the same anymore after the hurricane Kronos destroyed everything ten years ago. Now the bees have disappeared forever and children are forced to work in the fields to make pollination possible and enhance food production.
The society has been divided into three classes with the Paragons ruthlessly reigning at the top and the Outlanders left out to scavenge for themselves in the outskirts. The Freedoms are the most oppressed in the name of development necessities. The social hierarchy mirrors our modern day turmoils where the privileged always dominates the needy and a dystopian outlook only heightens the matter.
What I adored the most is the bond shared between Shifa and Themba even though they did not share the same blood. Also, this book is a huge nudge to the conscience of humankind. We are all entitled to the free gifts of Nature which also entails the responsibility of keeping them safe.
The narration is vivid and haunting, leaving us to imagine the worst case scenario of an apocalypse which might drive us all beyond the edge of reasoning. The characters are deep-seated and almost instantly relatable.
Where The River Runs Gold is a fair warning against an inevitable fate, wrapped in familial warmth and an adventurous odyssey. Would rate it 4.5 out of 5 🌟.
❝𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓻𝓲𝓿𝓮𝓻 𝓶𝓲𝓰𝓱𝓽 𝓷𝓸𝓽 𝓫𝓮 𝓰𝓸𝓵𝓭𝓮𝓷 𝓫𝓾𝓽 𝓲𝓽 𝓼𝓮𝓮𝓶𝓮𝓭 𝓽𝓸 𝓫𝓮 𝓹𝓪𝓲𝓷𝓽𝓮𝓭 𝔀𝓲𝓽𝓱 𝓪𝓼 𝓶𝓪𝓷𝔂 𝓬𝓸𝓵𝓸𝓻𝓼 𝓪𝓼 𝓮𝔁𝓲𝓼𝓽𝓮𝓭 𝓲𝓷 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝔀𝓸𝓻𝓵𝓭 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝔀𝓱𝓸 𝓴𝓷𝓮𝔀 𝔀𝓱𝓪𝓽 𝓸𝓽𝓱𝓮𝓻 𝓬𝓸𝓵𝓸𝓻𝓼 𝓯𝓵𝓸𝔀𝓮𝓭 𝓾𝓷𝓭𝓮𝓻 𝓲𝓽𝓼 𝓼𝓾𝓻𝓯𝓪𝓬𝓮?❞ . . Extremely ravaged by the hurricane Kronos, the city of Kairo is not the same anymore. Bees have vanished and pollination can only be carried out artificially through hands for which children are enforced to work on the fields.
The siblings, Shifa and Themba are exploited and subjugated to work in the very same field. The government disguises the world by featuring an enticing epitome of 'Freedom Fields' where children carry out their studies and work at the same time but the reality was a long way off. Shifa realizes their lives are no less than living behind the bars and unravels a secret that can vindicate them and alter their fate.
I totally adored the bond between the siblings. When Shifa got into trouble because of Themba, even though they weren't related by blood Shifa's love for her brother remains unchanged. However, I liked the world-building in this book but the elucidation of the division of society into Paragons, Outlanders, and Scavage could have been more descriptive. The profound portrayal of the characters and human emotions drawn by the author was like a cascade that gave a beautiful flow throughout the read.
When the river runs gold is a book that facsimiles a dystopian world that could be possible in the near future if we don't put enough efforts to save our present thriving world. A tale that underlines the love of family and emerging out with valor. Recommending it for an adventurous read.
Where the River Runs Gold is a passionate book about the need to protect nature and save the environment, lest we fall into a state of dystopia like the characters in the book.
- Shifa and Themba are raised by their father Nabil as twins but Shifa is constantly watching out for Themba who is the more trusting and gentler of the two. Themba although never explicitly mentioned, is coded as autistic and the author beautifully depicts him as a boy who simply sees things in a different way. He is a wonderful artist and constantly takes to drawing and painting when he feels stressed. I particularly loved how he came up with rhymes to help himself remember more information. His utter innocence and ability to forgive people who have hurt him just tugged at my heart. PROTECT THIS CINNAMON ROLL.
- The bond between the brother and sister is just wonderful and I loved that even after Shifa finds out they're not related by blood, her feelings towards Themba never changes. (This is not a spoiler. It's mentioned in the first few pages). She is decidedly angry at Nabil for lying to her but she never once takes out her anger on Themba. It was beautiful how even when she got into trouble because of her brother, she wasn't mad at him. THE PURE SIBLING LOVE WAS JUST PRECIOUS.
- This dystopian world is one where the bees are dead. Where the only way of facilitating pollination of plants is by hand. And what better than little, delicate children's hands to do the job. The government paints quite a wonderful image to the public, of life on these "Freedom Fields" where children work and study but the truth is far from rosy. Within a few days of the duo's arrival at the Fields, Shifa realizes that the Fields are nothing short of a prison or labour camp.
- My biggest issue with the book was the number of unanswered questions about the world building. How did the so called caste system of Paragons, Freedoms and Foragers come to be? Why at the Freedom Fields there's no mention of food crops but rather of pretty flowering plants? (Considering the Freedom Fields were established to provide food to the people) And also the latter world building. The jump between the final chapter and the epilogue was so immense and we see there have been changes with the world but have no idea of how.
- Among the thing I liked is the author's descriptive prowess. The descriptions of places are so beautiful and vivid that I had an image of every scene in my head as I was reading. Another thing I really liked was how the author dealt with human nature. Generally in many middle grade books, the world seems to be in black and white but here there are morally grey characters. There are characters you think you will hate but then realize that they're nothing but victims of circumstance and I really appreciate how the authors portrays people.
Where the River Runs Gold is a beautiful book with important lessons on nature, love and family and would have been an exceptional read with more detail when it came to the world building.
This is an amazing book! A dystopian picture of our world ruined but ultimately saved.
I found the first half profoundly distressing. The 1984-like echoes of a dysfunctional society controlled by petty rules and closed-circuit television and the subjugation of young people was truly horrifying. When Shifa and Themba go to the “Freedom” school where they have been told they will get education and life-tools only to find they are part of a conveyor belt of workers is heartbreaking.
Their subsequent escape and journey back to their world that is beginning a resurgence of growth and optimism, with its twists and turns of alternate hope and horror, was riveting.
The multi-layered characters are finely observed and drawn. I particularly liked the way that the wise “witch” Lona is only seen dimly – we never meet her in person – a device that added richness.
I am not sure of the intended age-range for this book. As always, it depends on the reader! For my part, I would like everyone in this troubled world, child and adult to read it and take hope!
I absolutely adored this book. I've read all of Sita Brahmachari's novels and this is definitely my favourite. It's beautifully written, and will appeal to children and adults. I'm in my thirties and, since reading, I've bought more copies to give as gifts to other grown up friends! As with all Brahmachari's novels, there are important messages in this one, but it's not preachy or patronising. Can't recommend highly enough!
Shifa's world crumbles away when she discovers the unsettling truth of her origin. At the same time, around her, her hometown and world crumbles away and dries up. She and her brother are sent away to serve the interests of a dystopian ruling class which thrives on division and enlists children in to keep the food chain going. On her escape journey back home, Shifa will have to overcome deadly danger, but will also rediscover her identity, new friendships, and her desire to fight to protect nature. Highly recommended to children age 9 to 99.