A creative adventure with intriguing characters, Hunter Davis
March 8, 2022
Trainsurfer by Kate S Richards is historical fiction set in South Africa. It follows the journey of young Jabu as his life takes an unexpected turn. It starts with Jabu experiencing a heart wrenching tragedy. His instinct is to run. To escape the pain and grief, his journey brings him to a train station where he meets some unsavoury characters, who invite him to join them on their adventures. Jabu will experience further grief, as his journey continues. Through segregation and racism, will Jabu achieve his happily ever after?
In this book, Richards works to portray the message of resilience; the ability to bounce back when things don’t go to plan. Jabu perseveres through his many trials and never gives up.
Trainsurfer focuses on three main characters. Jabu is a young, inquisitive South African boy who finds himself in some difficult situations. He needs to dig deep to overcome some tricky encounters. Kyle meets Jabu while surfing. He appears to be a young teenager and is initially prickly towards Jabu. Billie is Kyle’s buddy. Billie is kind to Jabu and welcomes him into her friendship group. I felt I related most to Billie as she wasn’t unkind to Jabu and didn’t throw racist slurs upon him. I appreciated how she did not judge Jabu and accepted him fully. Each character was written in an intriguing way and I particularly liked the detail given to each person. “A girl with short, teased platinum hair walked past the boys, dressed in a wetsuit, carrying a board that fitted under her arm like a handbag. She paddled past Jabu, greeting him with a smile before duck diving under a wave”.
As soon as the book begins, you are hooked in. Other books I have read give you a hint of the background and the story doesn’t develop until you reach a few chapters in. In Trainsurfer, the story starts straight away and the events prior to the main storyline are revealed as the book goes on. I believe this is a great way to introduce the book, as the readers are pulled in immediately.
I enjoyed the many twists that the story provides, and it is difficult to predict what will happen next. It really kept me on the edge of my seat. The story links the beginning to the end beautifully, which I believe is a really effective way of capturing the reader.
I found it a little difficult ascertaining the age of the characters. There were a few clues peppered throughout to give me an idea… driver’s license, school student, but I believe I could have related to the characters more if the ages were indicated. Having this knowledge may have helped me paint a better picture of what was going on between the characters and linking their experiences within the book.
Richards has written this book in a creative way that encompasses tricky subjects like race, drugs, poverty and segregation. I really relished escaping into the adventures Jabu happened upon and I look forward to reading more books from this author.
- Hunter is 13 and lives in Cambridge.