2012 is the year of the London Olympics so, in anticipation, I shall be reviewing three books all with an Olympic theme but all of them very different.
Samuel's parents and sister die in a bloody massacre.
His brothers retaliate by joining the anti-Apartheid movement, with guns and terrorism as their weapons. But Sam decides to fight prejudice in his own way- as a runner.
Against all odds - from a poor township childhood to the Bantu homelands, from work in a gold-mine to competing for gold - he focuses his mind, body and heart on the long, hard race to freedom...
Blood Runner ~ a tall tales & short stories review
James Riordan states at the beginning of the book that Blood Runner is a work of fiction but it is inspired by the athlete Josiah Thugwane who became the first black South African to win an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta, in 1996 - and herein lies the strength and the heart of this short but inspiring book.
Although in places the execution feels a little dry, the story of Samuel and the loss and pain he endured and his ambition to provide for his own family epitomises the struggle and horrors faced by many black South Africans during Apartheid. Against all the odds, Samuel (and Josiah Thugwane), achieves his dream of not only providing for his family, but running for his country, being the first Black South African athlete to win Olympic gold, and meeting Nelson Mandela.
Included at the end of the book is a 'Note on Apartheid' which gives more background information on Apartheid South Africa and which also helps ground the novel in an historical context.
Blood Runner is a book about sacrifice, dedication and belief. It is an inspiring story of one boy growing up and not giving in, a boy who has a dream and a burning ambition to be the best - and against all the odds, he succeeds.