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Meg Bergman is fifteen and fed up. She lives in a tiny town in rural 1990s South Africa - a hot-bed of traditionalism, racial tension and (in Meg's eyes) ordinariness. Meg has no friends either, due largely to what the community sees as her mother's interfering attempts to educate farm workers about AIDS. But one day Xanthe arrives - cool, urban, feisty Xanthe, who for some unknown reason seems to want to hang out with Meg.
Xanthe arrives into Meg's life like a hurricane, offering her a look at a teenage life she never knew existed. But cracks quickly begin to show in their friendship when Meg's childhood friend Simon returns from his gap year travels. LEOPOLD BLUE is an emotionally taut and beautifully-written story from a debut author with a mesmerising voice.
in bed looking at them, I’d have had nothing to worry about. I groaned and turned my back on them, to face an aged and curling poster of Munch’s ‘The Scream’. The night before, in a fit of nerves, I had torn down the ‘Too cute to care’ kittens poster that had been on my wall so long that large greasy spots marked each corner. The Garfield poster followed that and the breaching Bottlenose dolphins. All that remained was Kirk Cameron smiling down at me from the ceiling. He had to stay – he knew
tales, Beth.’ I glared at Beth but she made a face and left the table. We used to be a team. Before Xanthe arrived she’d never have done that. She could only be jealous. Before bed I stood in front of my mirror, repeating Xanthe’s words and mannerisms that had seemed to charm Mum rather than infuriate her. But my cheeky grin looked like a disfigured sneer and my nonchalant face sulky. I lifted my hair up and back to see what it would look like short and chopped off. I looked like an overfed
Mum knuckle-crunchingly uncomfortable. Not that she saw him often: sightings of Hannes beyond the boundaries of his farm were rare. Other than Christmas and Easter, his visits to town were made only under duress. Hannes appeared, stooping as he negotiated the doorframe. With each passing year Hannes seemed to blend more with the land he farmed. His skin, like dried-out clay, told of hot, long summers; his restless eyes of the worry of coaxing another harvest out of the tired ground. He was
Karen lit up. ‘It is the arse-end of the world,’ said Xanthe, blowing out a stream of smoke. The cloud hung about her. I laughed, not knowing what else to do. Karen looked at me in surprise. ‘I’m Meg,’ I said. ‘Hi,’ she said, ‘Nice top.’ Xanthe flashed me a smile of triumph. ‘Fuck man,’ Karen continued, returning to Xanthe, ‘What a bummer.’ Xanthe nodded. ‘It’s everything you’ve heard, only ten times worse.’ By now I thought my smile would split my face in two. And yet for all
would be kids playing out on the road, light spilling out from open doors, radios playing and bursts of laughter or shouting. Here the creek-creek of the crickets and the distant frogs were the only things that kept us from being swallowed up in the silence altogether. *. Deep-fried syrup-coated doughnut in a braided shape **. Fried pastry with a spicy, savoury filling *. Cape dikkop: spotted ‘thick-knee’ bird *. Veranda *. Indigenous South African plant with a strong odour, used in