Bringing to life times, places and the people who live in them
Why invent new characters and places when you already have ones you know and love? Some of my characters appear in more than one book. Crossovers and Between Two Worlds are both set in fictional Rum River, Minnesota, several years (and worlds) apart.
Kids I worked with in the South African township of Tembisa where Sindi lived.
I remember what it was like Before. I flew over the ice like a swallow on the wind. Music filled my whole body, and I soared like a bird above the city of Johannesburg—eGoli—place of gold. I dreamed of gold medals and going to the Olympics someday.
But that was Before.
I was too young to know that life can collapse as fast as a skater can lose an edge and tumble to the ice. It hurts to fall, but you get up; you keep skating. You smile for the judges, and you don’t let them see the pain. That’s what winners do.
But sometimes, the hurt is too much, and you can’t get up. You can’t keep skating.
Then you lose.
Fifteen-year-old Sindiswe Khumalo is the most promising figure skater the South African Skating Federation has ever had. But at the rink Sindi can’t talk about what’s making her father ill. Even her best friends can’t be trusted. The young man who drives the zamboni lost his job when people found out he had HIV. A girl in her class dropped out of school when the bullies accused her of being infected. Sindi has dreams—Olympic-size dreams. The truth could cost her everything, but keeping the secret might cost her more.
[At skating camp Sindi meets up-and-coming American skater Ben Bradley (Crossovers)]
What readers are saying about Keeping Secrets:
Keeping Secrets is courageous, raw, honest, and real. Perhaps it should come with a warning. “Consume at your own risk!” Daring to voice the shame, stigma, and discrimination faced by millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa who have lost one or both parents to AIDS, LeAnne Hardy is not afraid to sadden, convict, and cry out for justice. This is not just a story for young adults, but for educators, advocates and all adults wrestling with whether to tell, or not to tell.
--Diane Marshall SIM Deputy International Director, HIV&AIDS Consultant
Be prepared to have your heart broken, your preconceptions or even misconceptions shattered, your eyes opened and hopefully, your mind changed. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a fictional account that got me so angry, so hurt, so concerned, so passionate about it’s characters and what was happening to them.
--Kevin Sorenson, pastor and blogger
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The Wooden Ox
More Books about Africa
Here are some of our family's favorite books set in Africa.
The sound of her brother's scream echoed on and on in her head as though it would never end. "Let me go!" she demanded stupidly in English. The African boy dug his nails into Keri's arm and brought the knife closer to her face.
Civil war is tearing Mozambique, Africa, apart. And whether she realizes it or not the war is about to become very real to Keri Anderson. While bringing clothes to a village in desperate need, the Anderson family is stranded in the middle of enemy territory and kidnapped by armed rebels.
By night, the Andersons and some friendly villagers are forced to march deep into the bush. When Vovô, Keri's African "grandfather," is left behind on the trail to die, Keri is furious with her dad for letting it happen and terrified for her own safety.
What if the rebels decided she was holding them up? What if they left her behind as well? Would Dad protect her? Or would he abandon her like Vovô?
What readers are saying about The Wooden Ox:
The Wooden Ox is rich in detail, dialogue, and the thoughts and questions . . . Powerful and captivating, both for adults as well as for middle schoolers and teens.
--Christian Library Journal
The Wooden Ox is realistic, tightly plotted and does not back down from the hard questions of the Christian faith. Although intended for a young adult audience, older readers would enjoy as well.
--Sharon Dunn, author of
Cow Crimes and the Mustang Menace.
...a story which will linger in one's memory and give insight into the experiences reported in the daily news as well as reminding readers of what faces many missionaries in Africa during these unsettled times.
Curious about the actual events behind this story?
Read a translation of the autobiography of Pastor Raphael Manguele, the real Mozambican pastor who served as my model for Pastor Makusa. He has an amazing story to tell.
Between Two Worlds
The voice on the intercom repeated the boarding call. Cristina picked up her carry-on bag. It was heavy with all the treasures she couldn’t force into her suitcase, but couldn’t bear to leave behind. Her feet shuffled reluctantly through the gate after Bete. The black tarmac reflected the heat of the Brazilian sun. She stopped half way to the plane and looked back at the terminal. It seemed like she had done this a hundred times before. It never got any easier. Vicente had his arm around Márcia who rested her dark, curly head on her brother’s shoulder and waved a last farewell.
"I hate good-byes." Cristina clenched her teeth and started up the steps to the plane.
Cristina Larson is American. Or is she? She grew up in Brazil and feels more Brazilian than American. Jason is the one who is American. Or is he? His grandmother came from Korea, and he doesn’t look like his Swedish-American neighbors in Rum River, Minnesota. And sometimes being different can be downright dangerous.
[Readers of Crossovers will enjoy meeting up with old friends from Rum River, Minnesota, like Ben's friend Jason Erickson.]
What readers are saying about Between Two Worlds:
... entertaining, inspiring, and encouraging.
--Author's Choice Book Reviews
When I read this book I felt like I re-lived some of my own transitions to the U.S. as a fellow Missionary Kid from Brazil. It spoke truth about both the joys and the frustrations that comes from being bi-cultural. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is an MK or cares about MKs and their lives. Enjoy!
--Kara Suzanne, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
What is a third-culture kid (TCK)?
Third culture kids (TCKs) are those who spend a significant part of their growing up years in a culture different from their parents’ home culture. Like Cristina Larson in Between Two Worlds, they often find that they belong to neither one culture nor the other. They make up a ‘third culture’ of those who move among different worlds. Here are some books that will help you to understand more about that third culture.
At school they’re always telling us about how we can be anything. What they mean is girls. Girls can be anything. But there are still things boys aren’t supposed to do. Boys play drums or trumpet. They don’t play flute or violin. Boys are doctors, not nurses; principals, not kindergarten teachers. If that old movie Kindergarten Cop couldn’t change that, it’s going to take a lot more than Elvis What’s-his-name playing hockey to make it okay for me to figure skate. Just ask Jason.
Star hockey player Ben Bradley wants to learn to jump and spin while his sister Denise is hoping to go to hockey camp and become the first girl on the Rum River High School varsity team. If the guys find out, Ben will never hear the end of it. And Ben doesn’t even want to think about what his former-hockey-star father will say.
[Set in Rum River, Minnesota, you'll meet a younger version of Jason Erickson (Between Two Worlds). Get a sneak peak at Ben's future in Keeping Secrets. ]
What readers are saying about Crossovers:
...a fast-paced coming of age story with something for everyone--sports, gender clashes, friendship issues, family relationships, a satisfying ending, and plenty of action.... This isn't a story about skating. It's a story about pursuing your passion against all kinds of personal and societal obstacles.
Crossovers was a great story that went way beyond sports. And the themes and issues were a lot more important than the typical washed up coach helps the underdog team overcome all odds and go on to win the championship heartwarming story that I'm a little tired of.... I really appreciated the deft way Ms. Hardy weaves in Christian values is such a natural way.
--Deborah Heal, author of Unclaimed Legacy
Kids will enjoy reading Crossovers whether they are skaters or not.
--Alan Westberg, past Minnesota Youth Hockey Association president
...a well-written story certain to inspire anyone reading it to be true to himself and accept the differences we find in each other.
--Barbara Blakey, author of Bertie’s War.
So That's What God is Like
Beads and Braids
Beads and Braids was published as a supplementary reader with an HIV/AIDS theme. Copies may be obtained from Shuter and Shooter Publications, Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa.
You can read the story here.