Out of Shadows
Jason Wallace




'If I stood you in front of a man, pressed a gun into your palm and told you to squeeze the trigger, would you do it?' 'No, sir, no way!' 'What if I then told you we'd gone back in time and his name was Adolf Hitler? Would you do it then?' Zimbabwe, 1980s. The war is over, independence has been won and Robert Mugabe has come to power offering hope, land and freedom to black Africans. It is the end of the Old Way and the start of a promising new era. For Robert Jacklin, it's all new: new continent, new country, new school. And very quickly he learns that for some of his classmates, the sound of guns is still loud, and their battles rage on...white boys who want their old country back, not this new black African government. Boys like Ivan. Clever, cunning Ivan. For him, there is still one last battle to fight, and he's taking it right to the very top.

'An extraordinary coming-of-age novel... a startlingly original debut... Charting the change from childhood to adulthood against growing political discord gives the novel a sense of urgency, and the book's intensity, drama and pace leave a lasting impact'. Bookseller's choice, The Bookseller

'Memorable, moving and disturbing coming-of-age story'. Lovereading4kids

'Beautifully written'. Independent on Sunday
Adam, from University College School London

Out Of Shadows is a wonderfully crafted book. It puts you in the place of a boy who has to make some hard decisions regarding his friends and I feel that the way he deals with it is realistic and I would not be surprised if I made the same decisions in his place. As the book goes on it does not cease to draw you in further. I feel that the blurb is crucial to this. The blurb makes you ask questions that you want to find out and they are answered only at the end of the book!

 

The main character is Robert Jacklin. He is a white boy from England who has come with his parents to Zimbabwe, which has recently been taken over by Robert Mugabe. He is sent to a predominantly white boarding school where sixth formers are ever powerful.

 

The second most important character is Ivan. He lives on a farm with his father and is very against this new Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. He is a boy in Robert’s dorm and they do not hit it off to a very good start!

 

I believe this book is aimed at ages 11-15. However I feel an older person could take away a deeper meaning in this book and appreciate the consequences to a different degree.

Alex, from University College School London

Out of Shadows is a book that reflects the serious effects that peer pressure can bring on young people. It is shocking, disturbing and most of all gripping right until the very end. It is strangely dark yet uplifting, and it tells the story of Robert Jacklin, an English boy who attends a traditional English boarding school in Zimbabwe just after the white minority lose the war to Robert Mugabe.

 

Robert Jacklin is quite an easily influenced boy at the start of the book. He is shy, vulnerable in a way and is completely against going to a boarding school. Throughout the book, he expresses how much he desires to be back with his friends and family in England. Upon arrival at Haven School, he meets a boy named Nelson Ndube. They share the same dormitory, and at the start of the book, promise to look out for one another and act like brothers.

 

Ivan is a cunning, scheming boy who does not like the new Mugabe-led regime in Zimbabwe as his brother was killed in the war. He talks about how much he misses his old country a lot. He makes clear the fact that he despises all blacks. From the start of the book, he tries to befriend Robert and leads him away from Nelson, because Nelson is black. For the duration of the book, Ivan does everything he can to make Nelson’s life a misery; some of the acts are petty, whilst on the other hand some of them are deeply shocking acts of violence...

 

Out of Shadows is one of the best novels that I have read. It is fascinating to learn about what life was like for the boys and people of Rhodesia when the black majority reclaimed it. Another reason why I enjoyed this book so much is because it was fascinating to hear that when Robert Mugabe was put into power, he did not show any of his unfair qualities and people believed he was completely the right man for the job, but as time progressed, he clearly became more and more corrupted by the power he had access to.

Alex, from University College School London

Out of Shadows is a book that reflects [upon] the serious effects that peer pressure can have on young people. It is shocking, disturbing and most of all, gripping right until the very end. It is strangely dark yet uplifting, and it tells the story of Robert Jacklin, an English boy who attends a traditional English boarding school in Zimbabwe just after the white minority lose the war to Robert Mugabe.

 

Robert Jacklin is quite an easily influenced boy at the start of the book. He is shy, vulnerable in a way and is completely against going to a boarding school. Throughout the book, he expresses how much he desires to be back with his friends and family in England. Upon arrival at Haven School, he meets a boy named Nelson Ndube. They share the same dormitory, and at the start of the book, promise to look out for one another and act like brothers.

 

Another character in the book, Ivan, is a cunning, scheming boy who does not like the new Mugabe-led regime in Zimbabwe as his brother was killed in the war. He talks about how much he misses his old country a lot. He makes clear the fact that he despises all black people. From the start of the book, he tries to befriend Robert and lead him away from Nelson, because Nelson is black. For the duration of the book, Ivan does everything he can to make Nelson's life a misery. Whilst some of his acts are petty, others are deeply shocking and violent.

 

Nelson Ndube is one of three black pupils in the whole school. At the start of the book, he is a good friend of Robert Jacklin. However, by the end of the novel, things have very much changed, and Robert shockingly betrays the boy he pledged to treat as a brother.

 

Pittman and Klompie are two of Ivan's cronies. They will do anything for Ivan, as they know that if they don't, Ivan will turn on them. Together with Ivan, they do whatever it takes to make the lives of those students of African descent, a misery.

 

Out of Shadows is one of the best novels that I have read. It was fascinating to learn about what life was like for the boys and people of Rhodesia when the black majority reclaimed it. Another reason why I enjoyed this book so much is because it was fascinating to hear how, when Robert Mugabe came to power, people believed he was completely the right man for the job, and that it was only as time progressed, that he became more and more corrupted by the power he had access to.

Ben, from University College School London

Out of Shadows is a powerful and important story, which at times, can be horribly shocking. It conveys strong beliefs and impenetrable arguments on highly-debated topics. Jason Wallace is able to manipulate well-known news stories and historical events to create a world which allows you to live vicariously and which provides the reader with as close to a first-hand experience as you can get in a book.

 

Out of Shadows begins in 1983, a few years after the end of the Rhodesian Bush War (or the Zimbabwe War of Liberation). Robert Mugabe is now Prime Minister, and Zimbabwe is no longer ruled by white people. I hardly knew anything about this historical event before reading this book so I was given a history lesson. It's very interesting, and is the first time I've come across a story quite like this.

 

Robert Jacklin is the main character and is a very likable personality for most of the book which makes one glad that the book is written in the first person. He starts off as an unassuming thirteen-year-old, and grows into a strong and decent man. He has more tough decisions to make and bad choices to live with than anyone that age should, but each shapes his life and who he becomes. His friends are a less desirable bunch, and though I see why Robert was so eager to be part of their group, things would have been vastly different if he'd stayed well away.

 

The first-person narrative style is compelling. It conveys a strong sense of 'being in the moment' and you often cringe at the decisions that Robert makes, making you really want to be there to stop him from making them. It also shows the depth of research that the author put in to the book. If there was ever a perfect story to use the first person narrative in, Out of Shadows is it.

 

At times chilling and dark, yet strangely hopeful, Out of Shadows is one of those books that I know I'll revisit in the future. I can't recommend it highly enough, and I hope it eventually gets the recognition and praise it deserves because as of yet, this great story has not been truly discovered for the treasures it holds.

Casey, from University College School London

Out of Shadows is set in Zimbabwe just after the war of independence.  The main character, Robert Jacklin who is about twelve, has just moved from England with his parents.  His father has been offered work there and jumps at the chance to be part of the new changing country.  On his first day of school he meets Nelson.  Nelson is black and this seems normal as the school now offers places to everyone.  However, there seem to be not many people at all who are black.  Nelson and Robert make a promise to stick together like brothers in this strange new school. 

 

As Robert gets used to the school he notices that many of the white boys in the school, boys who want their country back, gang up on the black boys and make them feel different and alone.  Because of his friendship with Nelson, Robert gets the same treatment.  Then he meets Ivan. Ivan makes him feel included but makes it clear this is only if he does and thinks the right thing.  As the book goes on, Robert begins to pick up some of Ivan’s racist views and he starts to join in with Ivan’s ‘games’, which get ever more sinister.  And slowly, Ivan’s horrible plan unravels. 

 

The book displays the friction at this time very well.  Ivan’s manipulative character goes very deep and you can almost see Robert’s views changing as the book goes on.  You can feel his guilt by the end of the book about the ‘games’ he’s been playing with Ivan when he finally sees the damage he’s done and how kind Weekend and his family have been to him. There is no black and white in this book and lots of grey. Robert constantly doubts his views throughout the book no matter whether it’s at the beginning when he agrees with his father or after Ivan’s fed him his own beliefs.  Even at the end when he decides for himself he still is not sure. 

 

Our main character starts the book listening to his father telling him about his views on politics and segregation but not really taking it in and not thinking it’s important. After he’s been plunged into the middle of it his ideas of what’s important have to change.

 

I thought Out of Shadows was a really good book but not at all a light read as it requires you to think quite deeply about it and there are some really sad or horrible scenes.  

Clara, from The Mount School

“Run this forsaken country into the ground . . . a country is burning, yet no one will tackle the flames”

 

Out of Shadows is a story of friendship, racism, and standing up for what you believe in.

 

I really enjoyed this book. In some parts it is shocking and quite violent, but it is so well written and really makes you think about what it was like for the boy growing up in such a difficult time.

 

This book is definitely not for younger readers, but for teens. It’s a powerful book with strong, interesting themes I would therefore recommend it to others.

Conor, from St James Catholic High School

Out of Shadows is set in Zimbabwe. The year is 1983 and Robert Mugabe is Prime Minister. He has come to power offering: hope, land reform and freedom to black Africans.

 

The setting is Haven, a prestigious private boy’s boarding school, which is predominately white with few black pupils. Racial tension is bubbling. Robert Jacklin, a young white English boy, newly arrived in Zimbabwe, struggles to fit in. He becomes friends with Nelson, one of the few black boys in the school. That is until Ivan, a white South African boy who is a violent bully, warns him against his friendship with Nelson.

 

Is Robert strong enough to stand up to Ivan? Can Nelson rely on Robert’s friendship? And the real question is does the future of Zimbabwe lie in the young people learning to live together or does Ivan have the answer? 

Cyara, from Copthall School, Barnet

Out of Shadows, by Jason Wallace, is a book that I would recommend to readers around the age of 9-10. It isn’t your usual fight-and-revenge-and-let’s-be-done-with-it type of book, and I would only recommend it to those destined to be a surgeon! Oh, and please don’t read it at night, and then suddenly switch your light off, because the only comfort sleep will bring is nightmares. On the other hand, if you are the type of person who loves a good, gruelling, reality check, then you are bound to enjoy this book. Overall I would rate this book 6/10.

Danny, from University College School London

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace is a delightful advert for all fantastic literature of its kind. The author transforms my lazy, Friday afternoon and cosy but plain, living room into the exotic, fascinating, 1980s Zimbabwe; all through the eyes of a schoolboy such as me.

 

The aftermath of the Zimbabwean battle for independence is where our story begins. Robert Jacklin faces the task of starting a new life and a new school – so very far away from his beloved homeland, England. As Robert progresses through his teenage years, we are given a thought-provoking education into the kind of mind-sets that these schoolboys were in.

 

Although the physical war had come to a close, we learn that a clear barrier of competition, and sometimes hatred, existed. Page after page, one flicks on – with no intention to return to the outside world. Robert encounters a series of unhappy occurrences as he faces homesickness, family illnesses and immense peer pressure, culminating in the most dramatic and readable of scenarios.

 

I struggle to find the slightest of criticisms, as I have found this to be one of the most enjoyable books that I have read. This novel is more a case of ‘what isn’t excellent’ rather than ‘what is bad’.

 

Its three hundred pages or so are such a pleasure to read that they would appeal to anyone, but especially teenage boys and girls. This book engages not only the emotions but also one’s thoughts. It’s wise, carefully thought through words form sentences which ring through your mind regularly – a highly memorable book!

David, from University College School London

Jason Wallace's book Out Of Shadows is a compelling and thought-provoking novel about race, bullying and the need to belong. Robert Jacklin moves to Zimbabwe in 1983 at the age of thirteen. The civil war has ended and independence has been won. Robert Mugabe has come to power promising land and freedom to black Africans. But at Robert Jacklin's new school, not all his classmates agree with this. Jacklin is torn between his black friends at school and his sympathy for the once colonial whites after seeing the land seizures by Robert Mugabe's government.

 

Jason Wallace raises many interesting questions in this book including this one:

"If I stood you in front of a man, pressed a gun into your palm and told you to squeeze the trigger, would you do it? No, Sir, No way! What if I then told you we'd gone back in time and his name was Adolf Hitler? Would you do it then?"

 

I highly recommend this book as it is a thrilling and heart-racing read, which portrays the tension and racial prejudice after the civil war. It is not suitable for younger readers however.

Delphi, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

'If I stood you in front of a man, pressed the cold metal of a gun into your hand and told you to squeeze the trigger, would you do it?

 

Perspectives affect our actions, cloud our vision, change our minds. Even other people's perspectives change us. What if you stood between two conflicting sides, each hating the other and had to choose one?

 

The real story of a war and its aftermath, told in terms we can understand by characters we can believe and relate to. We understand Robert's pain, his confusion, struggling with the peer pressure and weapons not yet laid down.

 

Even in the schools the fight continues between the white boys and the black, Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, Britain and Africa.

Itamar, from University College School London

Out of Shadows is a book that you can keep on reading and reading and you will never get bored, every page there is something different. The story is based upon a boy called Jacklin, who moved from England to Africa because his dad got transferred from his job. It is placed in the 1980s and shows Jacklin grown up from the age of thirteen (1983) all the way to sixth form (1986) where he lives an African childhood, right after the independence war and after Mugabe comes to power, but there is still hatred between the whites and blacks as it shows from Jacklin’s new white friends, Ivan and his crew. Ivan shows Jacklin the life of Africa throughout the years, shooting, girls, and introducing him to smoking, Jacklin explains it as the best life. But Jacklin has a more depressing life in his own home with his mother and father and tries to stay away as from home as much as possible.

 

I recognise this book as an all round book; because there is part action, part drama, and much more.

 

There are strengths and weaknesses of this book; I find one of the strengths helpful to a thirteen-year-old child to read because the writer writes the book like he is thirteen years old himself. This helps a teenage child understand the book a lot easier. Another strength is how the writer sets out the book; this makes the book a lot better to read because the writer skips two years and then writes a brief explanation of what happens in those two years, which I like because the writer can write about Jacklin living through the years in Africa without making the story too long.

 

It was hard to find any weaknesses to this book. I think thorough the story the writer skips some parts very quickly so it is hard to concentrate sometimes, which made me have to read the page again. Also I think the writer could have explained all the African words that he wrote because it got quite confusing how you didn’t know what it meant and tried to figure it out (right in the middle when you can’t take your eyes off the book.)

 

Overall, I think that the book was one of the best books I have read. And I recommended it very much.

Jamie, from University College School London

Out Of Shadows is a book written by Jason Wallace about the rise to power of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Robert Jacklin is a thirteen-year-old English boy who arrives in Zimbabwe with his parents on business. As he hasn't been there before, he's very ignorant about the events happening in the country and he is forced into the opinion of his white school mates at the prestigious boarding school he attends. When he first arrives at school, he makes friends with a black boy called Nelson. However, as the book progresses, peer pressure forces him into ending this friendship because,  according to the white boys at his school, friends of black people are as bad as the black people. To boys like Ivan, the black africans have taken everything from them. Slowly, they're implementing more and more changes until eventually Ivan's family are kicked off their land. This is when Ivan decides to plot to kill Mugabe...

 

Throughout the book Jacklin must question whether he thinks his friends' views are right. Does he really want to play these ‘games'? Finally he decides to outlaw himself from the group. He feels lonely now as he has no friends and Nelson, who would never take him back anyway, is gone. When Jacklin discovers what Ivan's up to, in a quick flash of heroism he foils his plan but now he must ask himself - was it the right thing to do?

 

Out Of Shadows is a very interesting read. We all know Mugabe as a tyrant and evil dictator, so it is interesting to see how innocent bystanders like Jack's dad say things like "Now there goes a great man" as he goes past. The book teaches us not to let others influence our views, and to not let them tell you what's right.

Jeronee, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

This is a story set in a traditional English boarding school in Zimbabwe which tells the story of Robert Jacklin. At the start of the book, he is an easily influenced boy who is shy and misses England. But whilst reading it, you wish that Robert would stand up for himself. This is a very interesting book where you learn about what life was like and about Robert Mugabe.

 

In my opinion, this is a quick but captivating book about the history of Africa.

Joey, from University College School London

Out of Shadows is written by Jason Wallace and I thought it was very well written. It is set in Zimbabwe in the 1980's. This is just after the war for independence which I barely knew anything about until I read this book. The main story revolves around a young white English boy called Robert Jacklin and the story is told through his eyes. Throughout the book you see how this boy matures and grows up. His parents make the decision to move from his home in England to the newly independent Zimbabwe where he is shipped off to boarding school. 

 

His father encourages him to embrace the new regime as the start of a hopeful future for racial tolerance. Once he gets to the school he makes friends who are black and throughout the story he is torn between his black friends and his sympathy for the white kids after they witnessed the necessary land seizures by Robert Mugabe's government.

 

As the fighting and dishonesty increases between them, it looks like his generation is now growing up where the hope for change has long since passed. Jacklin eventually finds it all impossible to ignore. He is therefore forced into making a decision which obviously has consequences but as yet he doesn't know how damaging they could be.

 

I thought Out of Shadows was a very clever novel and really made you think out what was going on. It was also quite moving and in some areas this was about coming-of-age, race, bullying and the need to belong in a place far apart from what you know. It also looked at how different people react to the political changes around them, even if they are younger.

 

Personally I enjoyed this book but at times it began to get a bit tedious. However, it was very clever and well written. I do recommend this book because at most points I enjoyed reading it but I would suggest that you should be at least thirteen if you want to understand it properly; I didn't even completely understand all of it. I would give this book a 7/10.

Jonah, from Jewish Community Secondary School

This is a very moving tale of a boy moving from England to Zimbabwe in the 1980s. For Robert Jacklin, everything is new: new school, new continent, new country and new friends. He just joined Haven School, and for him the war has finished and everything is the way it should be, but for boys like Ivan, who resents the fact that a black leader is now in charge, the war is far from over.

 

Mugabe has come to power, offering hope, land and freedom to black Africans. This means that all schools now have to take in blacks and whites. For Nelson Ndube, a black child who also joins Haven School, things just got a little bit tougher.

 

This story starts with Nelson and Robert becoming friends and making a promise to look after each other like brothers. But although Robert doesn’t expect it at that time, this turns out to be one of the hardest promises for him to keep. Eventually, he gives into pressure and befriends Ivan, a racist white boy, a choice that will change his and other people’s lives in many ways.

 

As well as being a great novel, you also learn from this book. It teaches you what it was really like in Zimbabwe after the war, and that sometimes even doing nothing can be harmful to others. In one very violent scene Ivan, Jacklin and two other boys find Nelson and two other black kids hiding in a bush by the cliffs… …Roberts’s role in this scene is very small, yet extremely effective. He does absolutely nothing. He doesn’t hurt Nelson physically himself, but he does it indirectly. By doing nothing he’s just standing and watching while the person he promised to protect is getting hurt.

 

This novel is “unputdownable”. It shows racism and foul language used by the characters. Jason Wallace, takes you right into the mind of Robert Jacklin so you see things through his eyes, and makes you think about the decisions the characters make and if they are good or bad. He shows how Robert’s life changes from a nice, young, innocent boy to a grumpy, miserable and guilty young adult.

 

Another character in this gripping tale is Weekend, who may not seem like a major character, but he has a significant impact on Robert. Weekend is a worker who lives in the village and saves Robert’s life. Later, when Robert is part of a gang that throws rocks at little children…   ...He realises the consequences of the choices he makes. Weekend never finds out about Robert’s involvement, and Robert has to live with that guilt.

 

I loved this book. It is a gripping story that made me think about the effects of racism and how the decisions we make live with us forever. The level of suspense never lets up, making the book very hard to put down (I stayed up until 2 o’clock in the morning just to finish it - but don’t tell mum!) An overall rating of this book from me is 9 out of 10. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re under 13, however, as there is a lot of bad language. For all older children, this is a must-read.

Jonathan, from University College School London

This book is a great account of the life of a British boy growing up in 1980's Zimbabwe in a predominately white school called Haven. This is an interesting time period, and it was very interesting to be able to perceive it as from the perspective of this teenage boy, emerging from the innocent, and finding out about the hazards of life in Africa the hard way. 

 

What I think is great about this book, is that the usual story of "enlightenment" of racism and discrimination which is usually present in books about racism, is vacant from this book, and it is almost a backward step for Robert Jacklin. He starts his school life at Haven full in the knowledge and opinion that black people are equal to white people, homosexuality is not a crime, and racism is wrong, having been informed rightfully by his father, who moved his family to Zimbabwe for work reasons. However, his longing to be popular and have more friends means he betrays his early black friend, Nelson Ndube, to become "one of the gang" as it is described.

 

This posse is led by a very important character named Ivan Hascott, a racist, homophobic, small-minded boy in Robert's year who believes very strongly that the black people "stole his land and do not under any circumstances deserve it". He lived through the war and it has clearly had an effect on him, enraging him. His father clearly influences him and is described as only hating two things in life: "blacks and queers". This shows how against the black government the white population is. It seems to be the general opinion of the whole school, even if the government forces them to have black students and teachers. It is clear that even some of the white teachers, and even the head teacher, of Haven are racist and only comply with the government's plans to introduce more black people into the school to keep them content and not get the school shut down.

 

Ivan is incredibly manipulative. His character is very well described by the author, and he is clearly an outgoing person who will do literally anything to restore white supremacy in Zimbabwe. His racism is incredibly strong, referring to black people as "Kaffirs" and in one instance saying "I hate blacks, I always have, and always will!" after being accused by a friend of being "soft" with a black child. Ivan has a massive influence on Robert and makes him become racist and he starts to side with the white population in Zimbabwe, agreeing with Ivan's protests against black rule.

 

The ending is by far the best part of the book, where it describes Robert's encounters in upper sixth. It is massive food for thought and leaves the reader with a frustrated, almost depressed feeling by the end of the book. The author completely captures the culture of Zimbabwe's people, black and white, describing the events of this epic tragedy well. The author gives the reader a great climax to the book.

 

After a downward spiral of Robert's opinions and knowledge, after a clouding of his judgment there is massive relief to the ending, however it does not end happily, as the book shows a scene of Robert returning to Haven as a man, and is forced to think of the consequences, thinking of motives, beliefs and guilt, he is left with the massive question: should I have let him do it?

Katie, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

This book is a gripping yet horrific tale of a young boy named Robert. The reader is able to get to know him and understand why he does certain things. At the beginning of the novel Robert is seen as a very understanding character but as the book goes on he changes and turns into one of the bullies at school.

 

This book if full of regret, mistakes and living like there is always tomorrow.

 

I leant a lot from this book, even though I found some of it disturbing. This is a book which deserves to be read.

Louis, from The Elmgreen School, Southwark

I really liked this book.  In the story a young boy called Robert Jacklin is thrust into the bush of Zimbabwe.  It is here where he meets Nelson, a small African boy.  Nelson and Robert swear that they will look after each other.  However, Ivan, the school bully, ‘hates’ blacks and Robert, blinded by the idea of invincibility, follows him.

 

The reason I enjoyed this book so much is that it is very believable, and back then Mugabe was seen as a great man, unlike now.

Luke, from East Barnet School

Out of Shadows is a great, inspiring book set in Zimbabwe in the 1980s; it is mainly about the black people fighting for their rights. It is set after the war but some white people are still racists to the blacks. These include Ivan Hascott, a boy who despises the black people and wants to do something against them. Something big. The hero of the story is a 13-year-old boy called Robert Jacklin. He is from Britain, but he is starting a new school in Zimbabwe. It follows his story first in year 7, then year 10 then finally sixth form.

 

This is a brilliant, emotional and amazing book that I recommend, due to strong language and complex ideas, to a secondary school age and above. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read suited both to teenagers and adults alike. My mum read it and said she liked it even more than me (Impossible). However, this book is not a book for those who like mindless violence and contains (to my disappointment) no death scenes apart from one (I won’t spoil it).

Marina, from East Barnet School

This book is set in Zimbabwe, at the time when Robert Mugabe first became President. It follows the life of a 13-year-old British boy called Robert who is sent to a boarding school in Zimbabwe, which at first he is dreading. His father has high hopes for Africa, thinking that Mugabe will bring happiness and hope to the continent, but all Robert wants is to go home.

 

Eventually, though, the boy gets used to and even enjoys going to school, even while his family is falling apart. He first becomes friends with a black boy called Nelson, but later, under the influence of a racist bully called Ivan, ditches him and befriends Ivan and his mates instead. Ivan is a cruel enemy but a good friend, and for the majority of the book, Robert sticks with him and goes along with his spiteful, sometimes dangerous games against anyone that Ivan doesn’t like - including Nelson.

 

As Ivan grows up, his games and tricks become more and more risky... by this time, Robert has come to realise that Ivan is not the clever, cunning boy he once saw him as, but a cruel, violent, racist bully…

 

I really loved this book. As well as being fun and enjoyable to read, it is thought provoking and teaches you about important matters without being boring, which means that even people who aren’t really interested in politics and such can learn something. While at times the story was a little too complicated to understand completely, it was generally really good – it was subtle and made you think, not always stating things outright but letting you try to work things out for yourself, which made you want to read on. I loved how you saw everything through Robert’s eyes rather than in third person; somehow this made the book a whole lot more enjoyable to read. It was like even though all of the things that happened in the book really did happen, it made it feel more like fiction.

 

Overall there are very few, if any, faults with this book. I finished it in a very short time because, after the first few pages, it was difficult to put down.

Mike, from The Elmgreen School, Southwark

This story starts off with Robert Jacklin a boy who has moved from England because of his dad’s job. The book is set during the height of apartheid and Robert is sent to an all-boys school which is private, so pretty much all white boys. Because of the time, there was a lot of racism. Robert himself befriends a black boy, Nelson, but he also befriends a racist white boy called Ivan. Influenced by Ivan, and against his consent he bullies Nelson and ends the friendship. As time goes on, Robert realises that Ivan, his new friend, is planning something big. It turns out he is...

 

The story starts in 1983 and continues up to the present day, although the main events happen during Robert’s time at school, from year 7 to the sixth form.

 

The main characters are Robert Jacklin and Ivan, who build a strong friendship which then falls apart. As he builds up his friendship with Ivan he becomes more confident, but not confident enough to refuse Ivan and his gang. Ivan is a classic racist bully. He has a weird home life and is quite an extreme racist as he grew up during apartheid as a white person. I liked the differences in personality and the troubles Robert faces.

 

The story is written in the first person from the point of view of Robert Jacklin. I quite like this as it lets you know how he is feeling, and a lot of the story is about Robert’s feelings. This is a good story as it makes you believe it was real.

Myshka, from The Elmgreen School, Southwark

Out of Shadows is a book that portrays the daily life of a school child with bullies, bad words and friendships ending.

 

The story is about an English boy called Robert Jacklin who goes to Zimbabwe and starts school there.  He makes friends with a black boy who is bullied.  He then makes friends with the bully, Ivan, who hates Robert Mugabe and wants to kill him.

 

The main characters are Ivan and Robert.  Ivan is a bully who hates black people and Robert is the English boy who has moved to Zimbabwe.  Robert is bullied by Ivan but then becomes friends with him and that is how the book starts.

 

The book is written in the first person and reflects the daily life of a school child.  It is all described in detail and the feelings and attitudes are described in depth.   I felt sad for Robert, but I felt like I had learned something as well.

 

I think this book is one of the best I have ever read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.   I would like to read the author’s other novels, and I have recommended it.

Nathan, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Out of Shadows is a very moving tale, based around the life of an English boy, called Robert Jacklin, whose family have moved to Zimbabwe. At his new school, he learns that despite what it might seem, the war is far from over. Whilst there, he befriends Ivan Hascott, who plays a key role in the story. From Ivan he learns racism, a habit he will stick to, even when not around Ivan.

 

Out of Shadows is largely about race, and racism. Jason Wallace beautifully portrays the peer pressure on a boy, and how that can change his entire nature. At the start of the book, Robert Jacklin comes to the school as a budding cheerful, non-discriminative, if a little naive, boy. By the end he is grumpy, racist and above all, guilty.

 

A minor part is played by a black boy Nelson Dnube, who is originally Robert's best friend, but as Robert becomes more and more friendly with Ivan, Nelson is left more and more behind, until in one scene, Ivan drops a scorpion into Nelson's trousers, and Robert just stands and watches. This scene is incredibly crafted, with but one piece of criticism; it is simply too violent. The scene starts with Ivan, Robert and two other boys catching Nelson and two other black children hiding in a bush. They throw two of the boys over the cliff, and Nelson is left to suffer the worst fate of all.

 

The book finishes with a scene about ten years later, when Robert has made a hash of his life, with his wife having apparently left him, and he left the best school in Zimbabwe with poor grades.  In this scene, he meets an important figure from his childhood, and he tells Robert how badly Zimbabwe has gone downhill. It is very well worked, and really makes you feel the reality of the situation, and the emotion felt.

 

All in all, this is an extremely emotional book, with added realism as you realise that this could have easily been a true story. If it does have one drawback, then that is that the realism and the violence combined can be just too much... If you are under the age of 14, then make sure you are adult enough for the content of this book. Overall, the book is brilliantly crafted, touching on a vital issue.

Noah, from University College School London

Out of Shadows tells the story of Robert Jacklin, the son of a British civil servant.  It is Zimbabwe, 1983 .The long bush war has finally ended, and Robert Mugabe is in power. Robert Jacklin begins high school at a prestigious boys' boarding school and is immediately confronted with the racism and fear of the white pupils and their antagonism towards the few black pupils at the school. Robert's idealistic father has taught him that the outcome of the war was right and that it was only just that the country be given back to the Zimbabweans from whom it was stolen in the previous century. The task now lies with Robert to bring together his father's liberal ideas with his need to survive the bullying and politics of a boys' boarding school where he is already an outsider.

 

I think that the book is powerful and important but at some times horribly shocking. Out of Shadows begins in 1983, a few years after the end of the Rhodesian Bush War. Robert Mugabe is now Prime Minister and white people no longer rule Zimbabwe. I hardly knew anything about this historical event before reading this book and I found the book very historically informative.

 

Out of Shadows is devastating, shocking yet compelling.  The reader is immersed in this world where the boarding school is steeped in colonial traditions and values. Having more than a basic knowledge of the events in Zimbabwe in the early and mid-1980s, I felt that the novel was historically accurate and the accents and slang used authentic.

 

In addition to the themes of bullying, racism, politics and morality, the author runs several other themes that reference to significant events in Zimbabwe at the time.  The boys repeatedly expressed fear that Robert Mugabe will "come after the white community next" based on the massacres of the Matabele population by the Shona government (known as the Gukurahundi), and Mugabe's secret yet lethal elite army gains increasing prominence in the story.  The story also covers the very beginning of the farm seizures where farmers were intimidated and forced to sell their farms to the government for a fraction of their real worth.  There is also the story of Robert's parents, the lies that they tell and the ultimate tragedy and betrayal.

 

Robert Jacklin is a very likeable character for most of the book. It also helps that it was written in first person . He starts off as a humble 13 year-old, and grew into a strong, decent man.

 

He has more tough decisions to make and bad choices to deal with than anyone in his circumstances should have to, but each decision he makes changes his life and forms the person he becomes. His friends are less desirable people, and I think that's the reason why Robert was so eager to be part of their group, things would have been vastly different if he'd stayed well away.

 

At times terrifying and dark, yet still hopeful, Out of Shadows is one of those books that while giving a deep historical insight, still follows an intriguing story. I thought it was a compelling, thought-provoking novel about race, bullying and the need to belong set in Africa.

 

Pratista, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

Out of the Shadows is a powerful, intriguing and at times disturbing novel. At first it took some time to get into the book, but once I had I could not put it down. I loved how the book showed Robert's life from his childhood to adulthood as we got to see him change to a whole new person.

 

Before reading this book I knew nothing of Zimbabwe during the 1980s, so finding out about the historical events was very interesting and quite shocking, because of the fact that something along the lines of the events in the book actually happened. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for an amazing read.

Robyn, from The Mount School

Out of Shadows is a story of a young English boy called Robert Jacklin. Out of Shadows is set in Zimbabwe, 1983. Robert is starting at a boarding school in Zimbabwe.  In this story Robert came to the boarding school at the wrong time. The fight for black people’s rights had been won and Robert Mugabe was in power. Mugabe gave a lot more than land and rights back to Africans he gave them hope and freedom.

 

When Robert Jacklin arrives at his new school he meets a boy, Nelson. Nelson had just started at the school too and very early on in this book they are soon best mates. When Robert first arrived he felt different and worried, then he met Ivan who was nice to him at first but soon shows his true colors as a bully.  From that moment on Robert realized his troubles had only just begun.

 

Out of Shadows is a gripping book which I recommend strongly to older readers as this book has quite strong language throughout.  Jason Wallace has blown me away with this outstanding book. I hope after hearing my review of Out of Shadows you read this book and really enjoy reading it, as I have!

Stefan, from University College School London

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace is set in Zimbabwe in the period when Robert Mugabe first came to power as prime minister. At the start of the book, the war had been one by the blacks two years before but there is still resentment between the people and not everyone trusts one another due to the war. The book is told from the perspective of Robert Jacklin who is remembering the times at his boarding school, with some memories of guilt and regret about the things he has done and the things he just stood and watched others do.

 

There are two main characters in the book: Robert Jacklin and Ivan Hascott. Robert has come to Zimbabwe because his father wants to be able to support his family more easily as it is cheaper in Zimbabwe but neither Robert nor his mother like his idea. The book is split up into three stages: In the first stage when Robert is new to the school, he befriends Nelson Ndube who has nothing wrong with him at all and would have made a good friend, but since the fires of the war haven’t been completely put out Nelson gets bullied because of his skin colour and the tribe he comes from, and all Robert really wants is to have friends and not get bullied so he slowly leaves Nelson for Ivan, the main thug in their year. He has only been in the country for a very short time he doesn’t have many opinions on it so as he begins spending more time with Ivan, starts sharing more of his views and gradually grows into acting a little like him. Robert sees Ivan as one of the cool people and sort of a useful person to be friends with so he wouldn’t get bullied, but he keeps on making comments on how he regrets not being nicer to Nelson and some of the others such as ‘if only I’d known then what would happen to Nelson’ and also makes comments about Ivan like ‘was this really the person I was friends with?’ after seeing Ivan’s more vicious side.

 

In the second part of the book which is two years into his time at the school Robert becomes one of Ivan’s “dogs” and says things he doesn’t really mean or want to say in order to impress Ivan and gain the Pack leader’s respect, but as they start playing ‘games’ which involve tormenting others … Robert starts to feel a little guilty but Ivan almost brainwashes him into believing that they deserved it and that they should suffer, and for a while Robert believes it.

 

In the third part of the book, which comes to the end of his life at boarding school Robert slowly begins to realize that what he, along with other of Ivan’s followers, is doing is cruel and wrong and has moments when he realizes he has turned into a thug and a terrible person. He is too scared of Ivan and of being alone to make a stand for himself but after he sees the effects of what he has been doing he tries to stick up for himself more and wants to leave Ivan’s gang and stop ‘playing their “games”’.

 

Ivan Hascott, whose family are worried that Robert Mugabe is going to take their farm and give it to the blacks. Therefore they hate him and the tribe he comes from, the Shona tribe. Ivan is also one of the thugs and from mildly bullying Nelson Ndube who is black but doesn’t see the need for violence, Ivan then goes on to do far worse things without regret. Ivan also seems to be the alpha male with a ‘pack of dogs’ which is a metaphor used to describe his so called friends, he has a hold over other students and eventually some adults are scared of him too and do what he says, fearing his temper. Ivan gradually gets more brutal and worse throughout the book as does his hatred for Mugabe, and he does awful things…

 

Out of Shadows is a devastating and compelling book about racism, bullying, politics, but the main theme is fear. Even Ivan is scared because now that a Shona government was in power he thought that they would start taking land and it was not just Ivan, a majority of the white people were scared because after seeing the slaughters of the Matabele tribe who came from the same country, they thought that Mugabe would turn on the White community.

Suillbhain, from The Elmgreen School, Southwark

This story by Jason Wallace is about an average boy called Robert Jacklin who is forced into a school in the heart of Zimbabwe.  It is set in the 1980s during the time of apartheid with racism all around. Unfortunately most of the action doesn’t happen until around the page 200 mark. It took me until 227 to find out what Ivan was trying to do…

 

The protagonist in this story is Robert Jacklin who happens to have the same first name as Robert Mugabe. Then he meets Ivan who wasn’t so innocent to begin with and gets worse as the story progresses.  Eventually the pair battle it out and only one stays alive.... I won’t tell you who though, find out yourself.

 

The story is written in the third person to give a general view of Robert Jacklin’s life at his school.  I would have liked to see it alternating between third and first person as it would make the story a lot more immersive.

 

Overall, the story is very exciting (once you are near the end) and pretty immersive.  I’d rate it 10/10 so GO BUY IT NOW.

Theodore, from University College School London

I was captivated by Jason Wallace’s book Out of Shadows from the very first page. It pulled me out of the real world and right into 1980s Zimbabwe, and into the world of Robert Jacklin - a teenage boy in a country he doesn’t yet understand.

 

The book never gets boring because of the tension between Robert and his ‘friends’. At first he can’t comprehend the rivalries between his classmates, which I found easy to relate to because, like Robert, I knew very little about the history of Zimbabwe. He doesn’t realise that for boys like Ivan Hascott, the war is not yet over. His relationship with Ivan is complex, because while he knows that what Ivan does is often wrong, he goes along with it anyway.

 

The writer uses a mix of clear English along with Zimbabwean street slang, which makes the novel more realistic. While it’s easy to understand the slang when you are well into the book (and become accustomed to the language), at the beginning it’s not very clear what they mean all of the time, and it could have been explained more clearly.

 

One of the things that for me made Out of Shadows such a great read was its realism. The book doesn't try to create a fantasy world, but instead gives the reader a very realistic picture of post-war Zimbabwe. The book wasn’t just exciting but was also educational, as it taught me of what happened in the war and the political climate after it. The book also doesn't try to be all sugar sweet about the boys; instead they act like real boys would - always getting in arguments and fights.

 

I really enjoyed reading Out of Shadows and highly recommend it to anyone, especially boys aged thirteen to adult.

Yasmin, from St James Catholic High School

Out of Shadows is a fantastic book about friendship, bullying and racism.

 

The main character, Robert, moves to Zimbabwe and is sent to a boy’s boarding school where he becomes friends with Nelson, a young black African.

 

The war in South Africa is over but with Ivan, a racist bully; there are other battles to fight.

 

This book will have you glued to your seat.

Zeme, from The Elmgreen School, Southwark

I think Out of Shadows has been a very enjoyable book, but at the same time stressful to read. However, I will continue reading it.

 

The story is about a boy called Robert Jacklin who moves to Africa and a new school.  He makes two friends, Nelson and Simpson Prior. But when Ivan wants to become Robert’s friend everything goes bad. The story takes place over a year in a school boy’s life. At the start it slowly describes the first few days, which made me want to read more because I wanted to know what happened between the friends.

 

I liked how this book is written in the first person by Robert when he is older, and tells the story of how ashamed he is of what he has done. I liked that this is a serious work of fiction that is based on real events. There were lots of details which made the story more painful, yet it was still interesting and good to read.

 

The author makes you feel as if you are there, and uses so many describing words that I could almost feel those things happening to me. I would recommend this book to people who like dramatic and sad books with aggression in them.