Title: Time Out
Author: Marita van der Vyver
Reviewer: Namhla Tshisela
Don't let the title of this book fool you.
Marita van der Vyver's Time Out is a story about loss and is far from the holiday in the French villa that the title perhaps evokes.
It is about a Cape Town family that takes a year off to go to France after the brutal death of a child.
But more violence and tragedy follow them in their retreat to the tiny French village. They manage to pull through and move forward.
They each react differently to the child's death and the book takes the reader through their individual experiences.
The child's death is especially hard for the mother, Hester. Her experience makes up the bulk of the book. Her reactions seem extreme as she desperately holds on to the memory of her dead child, while withdrawing from her husband and surviving son, Emile.
One almost feels sorry for her husband, Andre, who has the daunting task of keeping the distraught family together.
Emile's budding relationship with a black girl is fascinating and managed to hold my interest.
It is also interesting to note the family's, especially Hester's, obsession with Africa as they try to forget their ordeal back home.
Van der Vyver is an acclaimed Afrikaans author and Time Out is an English translation. As a result, some of the authenticity is lost in translation. For instance, what 13-year-old who listens to Eminem has "pals"? Judging Time Out solely on its story line would be to do the book an injustice.
The book is more about the endurance of the human spirit and undying faith and love. The author uses this theme to carry the reader to the end through the book's many highs and lows.