The Garden of Burning Sand
By Corban Addison
Zoe Fleming is an American attorney working with an NGO devoted to combatting child sexual assault in Lusaka, Zambia. When an adolescent girl is raped in the dark of night and delivered by strangers to the hospital, Zoe’s organization is called in to help.
Working alongside Zambian police officer Joseph Kabuta, Zoe learns that the girl’s assailant was not a street kid or a pedophile but the son of a powerful industrialist with deep ties to the Zambian government. As the prosecution against him grinds forward, hampered by systemic corruption and bureaucratic inertia, Zoe and Joseph’s search for the truth takes them from Lusaka’s roughest neighbourhoods to the wild waters of Victoria Falls, to the AIDS-ridden streets of Johannesburg and the splendour of Cape Town.
As the rape trial builds to a climax and sends shockwaves through Zambian society, Zoe must radically reshape her assumptions about love, loyalty, family—and, especially, the meaning of justice.
This novel was very good as it informed us about the dire needs of the African people. It was not a typical novel as it was sad and a rather depressing at times but I did think that if you are looking for an informative, deep, emotional read this would be an ideal novel. It was not boring but could be rather slow at times; you were always discovering different pieces of the mystery in each chapter. There where many different relationships between the characters in the novel. It really opened my eyes to what was going on in different parts of the world. So overall I thought this book was very good for this type of read.
I have to admit I was a little sceptical when I first picked up this book. It’s so removed from my usual dystopian teen romance I honestly wasn’t sure what to think. It’s strong and mature themes like prostitution, AIDS, politics, corruption and rape are not something you’ll usually find cluttering my shelf space at home.
However delving into this novel I realised that while the author treated these themes carefully, reading this book I was never at any point submerged in feelings of despair. Jarring, while some of the passages were, the author made me want to throw the book against the wall and demand justice, not cry tears of pity or disheartenment. This, I think had a lot to do with the protagonist Zoe Fleming, who while having experienced the harsh reality of life in Zambia seemed to have a rather positive outlook on life. And yes for those who are wondering there was a very light touch of romance.
There was a good balance in between wrapping up the case, moving forward with the plot and character growth. Fairly action packed without becoming overwhelming the novel was an interesting insight into the world of Africa.