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Child of Dandelions Paperback – Sep 1 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Second Story Press (Sept. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897187505
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897187500
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.3 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #228,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Quill & Quire

In 1972, Idi Amin had a dream in which God told him to expel Uganda’s 80,000 ethnic Indians. They had 90 days to leave. Set during this tumultuous period, Child of Dandelions is a stirring coming-of-age novel that follows 15-year-old Sabine as she copes with the reality that she and her family are no longer welcome in the land of her birth. Shenaaz Nanji, who was born in Kenya and now lives in Calgary, carefully builds tension during this 90-day countdown. On day one, when Sabine watches a crowd cheer the announcement, her best friend Zena (who is African) calmly tells her not to worry, since Amin only wants to get rid of Indians with a British passport. But as the days go by, Sabine realizes that there’s an even darker side to the expulsion order: first her beloved uncle goes missing, then soldiers burst into her home searching for her businessman father. Drawing on her own experiences for this, her first YA novel, Nanji creates a nuanced story that addresses issues of class and race.Indian shopkeepers ignore Zena, the girls’ friendship becomes strained, and she realizes her own parents treat their servants the way they would untouchables in India. Sabine’s family must make some difficult choices, and she and her younger brother get separated from their parents. Though she keeps the graphic details to a minimum, Nanji deftly depicts Sabine’s anxiety. The novel’s only weak spot is the too-tidy airport reconciliation between Zena and Sabine. Otherwise, Nanji dramatizes an episode that brought thousands of refugees to Canada, and she highlights the horrors they and others faced. The novel ends with a postscript that suggests the exiled Indians were the lucky ones, given the estimated half-a-million Ugandans who were killed during the Amin regime.


A stirring coming-of-age novel. (Quill & Quire 20081201)

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By picture_nut on April 22 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Historically Authentic, A Story of Human Courage June 23 2009
By Mohamed Mughal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having lived through the 1972 expulsion of Indians from Uganda as a nine year old, I can attest to the authenticity of the settings, scenes, dialogue, events and characters in Child of Dandelions. But this novel is much more than the sum of its well-written parts; it's more than the riveting narrative of a physical exodus. Through the character of Sabine, Nanji effectively conveys the emotional journey of this courageous fifteen-year-old girl in the midst of political turmoil and geographic upheaval. Although Sabine and her family are the ones being expelled from the country of their birth because of the color of their skin, in one scene Sabine watches her family's servant through new eyes, eyes re-opened by the intense circumstances of the day, and she realizes "She and her family had been treating the Africans like the untouchables in India. Katana could not share their utensils, could not use their washroom. As if he'd pollute them. Every day he waited until they finished their meal; then he cleared the table, washed the dishes, and sat on the kitchen floor to eat the leftovers or cook the bubbling white ugali, a corn mush. Sabine's face felt hot with shame. It was not only Mr. Singh or Lalita who were prejudiced, but she and her family as well." (p. 135)

Child of Dandelions soars as a story of courage and self-discovery, a historically based tale of fiction that remembers a largely forgotten racial injustice that unfolded in full view of the global community in the early 1970s, a well-written, even-handed and authentic narrative that documents the perspectives and experiences of those who suffered and overcame the brutal expulsion of Indians from Uganda.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Brings the evil of socialism up close and personal Jan. 30 2012
By M. Heiss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Idi Amin's reign of terror in Uganda included the ethnic cleansing of Uganda's Indian minorities. This book, from the perspective of a young girl, a Ugandan citizen but born to a family of successful Muslim Indian businesspeople, showcases the first tendency of socialists: DIVIDE AND ATTACK. Idi Amin singled out the talented and successful people in Uganda for elimination, gave them fair warning: 90 days until the exterminations begin, but then jumped the gun and started the political killings early.

Sabine, the hero of this story, watches as her culture, friendships, and family are swept away by the evil of socialism. Watches as her girlhood friend is turned into a child prostitute for the President. Watches as her family is blamed for their successes and resilience by scummy soldiers motivated by greed.

Sabine develops a "blame the victim" mindset: "Aunty, it is our fault. We took advantage of them..." p. 180. Understandable in the character, but false.

Parents should be aware that Sabine travels to a cold-storage warehouse where the mutilated bodies of tortured political prisoners wait to be identified and dumped into the crcodile-infested lake for disposal. She sees the maimed corpses, and so does the reader. Various types of torture-killings are described with friendly names: "helicopter treatment," "hammer treatment," etc. Also, Sabine barely escapes being raped by a soldier as she tries to get her paperwork to flee the regime. Lower age limit of 14, is my recommendation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A real page-turner Sept. 17 2008
By A. Simpson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Child of Dandelions is a heart-rending story of Sabine - a teenager living in Uganda. Nanji's storytelling is pure and Sabine's (mis)adventure is full of the sights and sounds of Uganda in the 1970s when Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of some 80,000 Indians.
Nanji - a children's book author has made an impressive debut into the Young Adult genre with her new book!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A good treatment of an event little-known in America Aug. 26 2012
By Meaghan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I think I had heard somewhere before about the expulsion of Indians from Uganda, but beyond a vague recollection I knew nothing about it. Nanji has done teenagers a service with this novel, which tells the story of an episode in recent African history that's been all but forgotten in the West. Idi Amin came out against the wealthy Indian minority in Uganda and gave the entire population ninety days to get out of the country or die. Sabine's family believes the order doesn't apply to them because they are Ugandan citizens who have been living in Africa for generations, but they quickly learn that such niceties mean little to the dictator and his henchmen.

Nanji resists the temptation to turn the characters into stereotypes; there are no all evil or all good people in this novel, but you see shades of gray in each one: Sabine's racist but kind family friend. Sabine's family's loyal African servant, who thinks of her family as his own. Sabine's African best friend who worships Idi Amin and agrees that, for the good of Uganda, the Indians must go. Her friend's uncle who is one of those abusing the Indians but protects Sabine's family at risk to himself. Sabine's grandfather, who's carrying a secret. Occasional phrases in African and Indian languages are sprinkled throughout and add authenticity without being distracting.

This story is taut and suspenseful. As the countdown continues and the tensions escalate, readers will keenly feel Sabine's fear and uncertainty. A fine work; I would recommend it, and read this author again.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Relived the fear of the 90 day countdown Feb. 27 2013
By Nisha N Patel - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I have been for the last 10-11 years part of a wonderful Book Club. We call ourselves "The Book Gems". Over the years we have read the finest literature ever. We are a very close knit group of very intelligent, passionate, knowledgable and sensitive ladies. Many times we touched on my history and how my family had ended up in Britain from Uganda. So when it came to my turn I researched and found that there were not many books written about Uganda and the experiences of what the foreign Indians went through at the hand of Dada Idi Amin.
This is part of history that not many people around the world know about. I was born in Jinja Uganda in 1966 and just 6 years later President Dada Idi Amin ordered an expulsion of all Foreign Indians and he imposed the 90 day count-down. This is my history and part of my life that has been deeply engraved in my memory. Reading Child of Dandelions really bought back the reality of what had gone on during this period. I loved the book because of that. It finally allowed me to let "The Book Gems". to feel for themselves the actual truth, the fear and sacrifies my family and other indian families had to make. It is a must read for all to find the terror and the truth about Uganda and Dada Ide Amin. I also choose The Shattered Pearl by Sara Armstrong to read along side Child of Dandelions both are easy reads but the knowledge acquired is of any history lecture given on Uganda. I loved both books. Greatly written and a very compelling story.

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