It Wasn't Roaring, It Was Weeping: Interpreting the Language of Our Fathers Without Repeating Their Stories

In her powerfully vulnerable fifth book, It Wasn't Roaring, It Was Weeping, Lisa-Jo Baker shares her experience of growing up as a white person in South Africa under apartheid, and her slow, transformative journey to understanding racial injustice and generational trauma. Baker (The Middle Matters) explores her deep love of her homeland, her grief at her mother's death shortly after her 18th birthday, and her struggle to tame the anger she inherited from her father.

Baker's narrative moves through vivid descriptions of South Africa: purple-flowered jacaranda trees and horseback rides across the grassy veld. She writes of English teatime on her family's farm, linking that ceremony to the country's history of Dutch and English colonialism. Baker acknowledges her family's complicity in South Africa's history of racial violence, including their treatment of Black workers on their farm. Having studied human rights and politics at universities in the U.S., she attends some of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. At the same time, she works to honor and heal her complicated relationship with her physician father. Alongside his warm affection for his children lived a simmering rage, and Baker highlights both aspects of their relationship and her struggle to forge a different path with her children. As she recognizes her country's racial sins and joins the work of reparation, Baker does the same with her father and her own children, leading to a renewed faith in God and in the possibility of redemption.

Baker's compassionate memoir offers a sincere, perceptive portrait of apartheid and a ray of hope for anyone who feels trapped in a toxic cycle. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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