Do you enjoy a good story with compelling and memorable heroes and heroines? This monthly column features homeschooled characters in literature and film. Wish you had your own copy of the book or movie? Just click on the product image or text links to go to the author’s site or Amazon to buy it!
Set in Cape Town, South Africa, Seekers of the Lost Boy is a fascinating book for any student of world history no matter where they live. It’s the story of a homeschool family that embarks on a quest to seek a boy who left a message in a bottle, and in the process they come face-to-face with the atrocities of their country’s apartheid past. (Apartheid is the Afrikaans word for “segregation,” literally “apart-hood.”)
It all begins when 12-year-old Simon Ward finds a bottle on the water’s edge during a visit to Muizenberg beach on a cold winter’s day. He brings the bottle home, dreaming of adventures, pirates and hidden treasures, only to have the bottle break. Simon’s disappointment soon turns to intrigue when he notices that there’s an envelope inside the bottle. It contains a letter written 30 years prior by a 12-year-old school boy from poverty-stricken Cape Flats. The letter is brief and contains one question:
“Who is God and does He care about me?”
This letter sparks the interest of the homeschool characters, and they decide to search for the mystery letter-writer. What they discover reveals a family secret, a history they never understood, and the life-changing answer to that important question. Fast-paced, exciting, and yet poignant, Seekers of the Lost Boy explores the darkness of apartheid, the healing of forgiveness, and the power of truth.
This debut novel from homeschool mom Taryn Hayes has all the elements of a good story: compelling characters, powerful emotions, interesting locations, exciting adventure, and a meaningful lesson. The Christian gospel message is masterfully woven into this unique tale, along with vivid descriptions of South African life. Even though it’s a young adult novel, it will stir the hearts of readers of all ages.
Seekers of the Lost Boy includes a glossary of South African terms and a final chapter titled “What was Real?” This is particularly helpful if you don’t know much about South African history. The author also made a unit study to accompany the book, which adds even more to its educational value. While the lessons are focused on ages 10-16, it includes activities to challenge the older student and occupy younger students.
Seekers of the Lost Boy was published by a South African traditional publisher, Naledi Books, in May 2013. Author Taryn Hayes lives in Cape Town with her husband, Craig, and their four children. Combining her love of literature, history and people, Taryn graduated from the University of Cape Town majoring in English, history and psychology. After obtaining a Bachelor of Social Science, she finished off her education with a teaching degree. She started out as a high school history and English teacher, and now enjoys homeschooling her children. Visit her website at http://tarynhayes.com.