Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais

I’ve been MIA this month at WildmooBooks. November turned out to be busier than planned. I’ll write a book related catch up post later this week, but for now, I just had to share this.

Cozy winter scene, reading by the fireplace with dogs. Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais (
Cozy winter scene, reading by the fireplace with Bea and Buddy.

This was the scene at my house last night. I was curled up by the fire with my dogs reading this excellent novel.

Tonight, however, I’m bookless. I can’t bring myself to start a new novel. Hum If You Don’t Know The Words is one of those novels that grabbed me and didn’t let go, even hours after finishing it. I learned a lot. I miss the characters. I’m resisting carrying the book around the house this evening.

I first heard about the novel when Bianca filled in for Chloe Benjamin, author of The Immortalists, at Booktopia at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT back in May. I bought a copy that weekend because I was so taken by Bianca’s warmth, genuineness, and the stories she shared.

Hum If You Don’t Know The Words is a powerful story about love, loss, learning and unlearning prejudice, and the power of running toward your fears. It’s a balm for the wounded kid in each of us and a rallying call to keep fighting the good fight for equality and acceptance.

Set in South Africa, Bianca’s homeland, Hum tells the story of two characters, a white almost 10-year-old girl named Robin, and a black almost 50-year-old woman named Beauty, who are forever changed by the Soweto Uprising in 1976. Their stories are told in alternating chapters. Both are engaging and together they took my breath away at times.

This debut novel is a page-turner that I highly recommend to everyone. If you like coming of age novels, historical fiction, stories about race, relationships, orphans, or foreign lands, you’ll want to pick up Hum. If you’re more of a non-fiction reader, this novel will provide loads of emotional context for what life was like under Apartheid.

Book Cougars Read-Along and Discussion with Bianca Marais

I’m excited to talk with Bianca Marais next week with my Book Cougars cohost, Emily Fine. Hum is the Book Cougars’ current read-along. If you have any questions or comments for Bianca, please email them to us at and we’ll share them with her when we record on December 7th. Episode 65 with Bianca will post on December 11, 2018.

Title: Hum If You Don’t Know The Words
Author: Bianca Marais
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017 (Paperback release 2018)
Source: Bought it at Northshire Bookstore
Bottom line: A gripping story of loss and love, fear and courage, set in South Africa during Apartheid.


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