We Kiss Them with Rain

Fourteen-year-old Mvelo lives in a squatter town on the outskirts of Durban, South Africa, amid "the chaos of human lives engaged in surviving anew every day." She is pregnant after an unwanted sexual encounter with a traveling minister. Her mother is dying of AIDS. These are the facts of Mvelo's life, and in a different storyteller's hands, they could easily result in a story without hope. But for Futhi Ntshingila, "someone with nothing to lose has a chance to arm-wrestle with God, and maybe to win."

This "maybe" is the heart of We Kiss Them With Rain, Ntshingila's third novel. Mvelo never knows if she will win or not, but throughout this slim but powerful novel, she takes chances and pushes forward on the assumption that maybe, just maybe, she can. A series of coincidences and hidden identities that rival a Shakespearean comedy dapple the bleak landscape of Mvelo's life with spots of humor and moments of love. Her story is not about endurance or even survival, though of course she must do both things at far too young an age. It is a story about joy and hope and courage, and what it means to lift up others and be lifted oneself, and how one young girl found her voice in a world seemingly determined to take it away. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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