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Frankie and Stankie by Barbara Trapido

Frankie and Stankie (edition 2004)

by Barbara Trapido

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298537,648 (3.43)13
Title:Frankie and Stankie
Authors:Barbara Trapido
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2004), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, childhood, apartheid

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Frankie and Stankie by Barbara Trapido


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This is the story of Dinah, a South African girl of Dutch-German heritage from birth in the 1950s to young adulthood as she finds her own character and path.

There are many themes in the book, from race to gender, and puberty to sex and education to work. Dinah grew up in a period when race laws were ever tightening while protests were breaking out, not only in the segregated communities, but also at universities. Indeed it is at uni that Dinah really comes face to face with racial politics as '60s South Africa is set to explode. Dinah's family is liberal, though not actively against the racial policies, and through her candid comments, me can see how colour lines are clearly drawn.

Trapido also shares an insider's view of the complicated relationships which make up girlhood. With her sister, Lisa, being close in age, Dinah has her first friendship. As Dinah goes to school and becomes more independent, she starts to form bonds of her own, though at first she is usually the passive partner. Her classmates, while all female, come from different backgrounds: social, economic, religious and linguistic. As primary school children, these differences are not important, but the move to different secondaries puts the girls on paths that will lead them further from each other. What is also clear, were the lack of options for women at the time, with few careers open to them.

I also enjoyed the portrayal of the school system, from classroom dictators to "chalk and talk", cut with rather tame pranks. I am sure that the characters will be recognisable to anyone who went to school!

The narrator grows up with the text, so observations made when she was a child are from the point of view of her 10-year-old self. It is then left up to the reader, with help from the author, to interpret these comments, to put them in context and read between the lines. At times this makes the text rather dense, but never tedious. Readers unfamiliar with South African history shouldn't worry as Trapido fills in the social background to the book.

I have been reading quite a few South African authors lately, so I was inevitable led me to compare Frankie and Stankie with Youth by J.M. Coetzee, another recent read. Apart from gender, what sets the books apart is that this book gives us both the personal and wider contexts. Frankie and Stankie is not only a good Bildungsroman, but is also interesting for its well-depicted back drop. ( )
  soffitta1 | May 28, 2012 |
Seductive, funny, heartbreaking. ( )
  AerialArmadillo | Nov 20, 2008 |
This is a wonderfully written book which allows us to take a peek at what it was like to live in South Africa during the 50's. ( )
  maviskein | Jul 15, 2007 |
Loved this book - well written detail from a childs point of view growing up as a white in apartheid S Africa ( )
  happyanddandy1 | Jan 10, 2007 |
Wonderful novel about two sisters growing up in South Africa in the 1950s/60s. Based very much on Trapido's own childhood in Durban. I found this reminded me strongly of my own schooldays in SA. ( )
  herschelian | Jan 18, 2006 |
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Dinah and her sister Lisa are growing up in South Africa in the fifties. It is at school that Dinah first learns about racism. As we follow Dinah from childhood, through adolcescence and marriage, to voluntary exile in London, we get a vivid glimpse of one of the darker passages of 20th century history.… (more)

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