Reggie & Me
Review: Lindiwe Mlandu
I love the smell of books. I look forward to reading a good book while lying on my back on the floor or sitting on the chair outside. Due to the national lockdown, I could not get my hands on the hard copy of this book so I had to settle for an e-book.
I wasn’t looking forward to reading a book on a computer screen, but I had to make do as the country is under lockdown.
I must say I was hooked from the first chapter of this book which is set in the turbulent 1980s in Johannesburg. It tells the story of an awkward, clumsy, quirky and bad tempered boy from a white, middle class family in Inanda.
Hamish Charles Sutherland Fraser is not good at sport and fails to make friends due to his lack of social etiquette which really embarrases his parents. He is small for his age so he gets bullied at school.
Eventually, he makes one friend, Reggie. Unlike other children at school, Reggie doesn’t judge Hamish. They become thick as thieves but Reggie has other friends while Hamish wants her all to himself.
Reggie moves away and Hamish is left all alone. His younger brother grows up quickly and is soon bigger that Hamish. Hamish is the black sheep in the family and he’s prone to angry outbursts.
At school, he masters the art of looking busy as he doesn’t have any friends to chat with. Academically, he’s barely making it. This is largely due to his lack of focus. Despite all his challenges and his small frame, he loves rugby. He’s in the D-team because he’s bad at rugby, but he pushes on with the dream of making it into the school’s first XV. He also loves performing on stage and he’s a good singer.
The book also touches on the realities of the 80s and early 90s in South Africa. Hamish and his family live a sheltered life while the black majority fight to end apartheid.
As a family they choose not to get involved in politics. Despite this, Hamish despises injustice. He stands up against racism when his school opens its doors to students of all races in the early 90s. His solidarity could be due to the fact that he knew what it felt like to be an outcast.
I was laughing out loud throughout the book which was exactly what I needed during these uncertain times. It’s a hilarious story of an extremely awkward person who dared to dream. Some of his dreams were realised but mostly he was the but of jokes.