Set in Amanzimtoti, South Africa, the story follows Wayne du Preez as he starts his matric. Completing his final year of high school won’t be his only problem, however, when a boy from his childhood makes a surprise reappearance in small town Toti, throwing Wayne’s picket-fence dreams with girlfriend Jess into a tailspin and forcing him to deal with a part of himself he’s been denying ever since he shared his first kiss with Kyle way back when.
I received a copy of Amanzimtoti: The Ridge from the Author in exchange for an honest Review. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
Amanzimtoti: The Ridge follows a 17-year-old South African boy, Wayne du Preez, as he starts his last year of high school with his best friend Travis and his girlfriend Jessica. On the first day of school a new boy arrives in town Kyle, Wayne’s Childhood friend and the boy who had kissed him all those years ago, which leaves him with him exploring an unhealthy inner turmoil of feelings. This boy has returned to Toti and has brought his childhood memories and his fears with him.
Amanzimtoti: The Ridge is such a wonderful book. The writing is good for a debut. I loved that this book used South African slang in it that readers could learn and explore. Included at the back of the book is a glossary of slang, which I appreciated. So even if you had no knowledge of South African slang, you could still understand what these characters were saying. This, and the descriptions of the landscape, made me truly picture the surroundings and the lives of these teenagers.
The story was told in the third-person POV of Wayne, and Carmen-Shea Hepburn did a good job of depicting what teenagers say, think and feel. The plot was good, the characterisation was fantastic and the characters are complex and believable.
Another highlight for me was the way the author writes the dynamics between the characters. Jessica and Travis are Wayne’s closest friends, they both treat him as family and care about him. They are fantastic characters and they affect Wayne so much because he doesn’t want to hurt them. None of the characters are two-dimensional.
“He didn’t think he’d ever felt this terrified. This exposed and vulnerable.”
Carmen-Shea Hepburn’s style was straightforward, easy-to-read and descriptive of the setting. This story will stay with me for a long time. The amount of information that the author gives throughout the book, as well as the speed of the book was perfect. I enjoyed this book, this is a very well written debut novel about a very heavy topic, it explores some really dark themes in a honest and relatable way.
I absolutely adored this book! This was different than most of the books I have read and I am excited to read the second book and see how this story develops. If you enjoy LGBTQ+ romance, or simply want to immerse yourself in a different culture, I recommend reading this.
As the story progresses we understand the character of Wayne more, and as our understanding increases so does the pace of the novel. It may start a little slow at first, but towards the end you realise that the pacing was just right.
To the readers out there that are going through things, here are some of the trigger warnings: Panic attacks, self harm, homophobia, mentions of violence and alcohol.