Rainbow’s End is a beautiful and haunting memoir of a young girl coming of age in war-torn Rhodesia. At the age of eleven, Lauren St. John moved with her family to a farm where a series of brutal murders had taken place, and taken the life of one of Lauren’s classmates. Young Lauren straddled a world where she was struck by the beauty and love of the place where she lived, and at the same time feared for her life. Whether it was the “terrs” (terrorists) who threatened the white farmers, crocodiles in the nearby river, or huge snakes that seemed to inhabit every square inch of the farm, danger was lurking everywhere. She was growing up and trying to find her place in a world which soon decided that, despite four generations of living in Africa, whites had no place there.
One of the things that really struck me about this book, was that Lauren St. John is about my own age. When she described the music and television shows she loved as a young girl, they mirrored my own childhood. I could not imagine, however, the constant fear she lived with and how to reconcile with that. How could you love a place so much and yet never feel safe?
The other theme of this book was Lauren’s coming to terms with her place in her family and in her country. As a child, you are sheltered, and don’t fully see the whole complex picture of these parts of your life. Lauren’s life was no exception. She didn’t grasp her parent’s troubled marriage, and likewise, she didn’t fully grasp the troubled co-existence of blacks and whites in Rhodesia.
It was a sad a sober look at a family and a nation between torn apart.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2007