BOOK REVIEW – Tribe by Rahla Xenopoulos


Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book.

With Tribe, Xenopoulos has produced an iconic work that defines a generation … MY generation. I can already feel myself getting quite irate at the numerous young upstarts who will undoubtedly do their damndest to claim it as the literary representative of their own generations!

The tribe in question is BENJYOLIVIAPIERREHANNESTSELANEJUDE, for they are forever intertwined, and therein lies both their destruction and their salvation. They are so tightly locked together  – ‘No Trespassers Allowed’ – that they battle to come to terms with a world outside of themselves, even when they have to go out into that world and attempt to make lives for themselves and do the inevitable growing up that is a rite of passage for most people.

They’ve been apart for 12 years, and are about to reconvene at a luxury South African game lodge, thinking that they can pick up where they’ve left off, as old friends often do.

Olivia – beautiful and spoilt (and horribly shallow and most unlikeable – but that’s just my opinion) has no clue how to be a mother to her twin boys, and only knows how to spend money and remain a trophy wife to Ben. There’s so much I could say about Olivia, none of it good! She thinks she’s the glue that holds the group together, but she isn’t (again, just my opinion!). She’s controlling, overbearing, and actually quite clueless (all, as I keep saying, just my opinion!!).

Ben – is unable to be honest with Olivia about the reality of their financial situation. He’s barely holding things together and trying to maintain an outward façade of calm prosperity whilst not even being able to select his own clothes to wear each morning!

Pierre – the only one of the tribe who seems to have been able to move on and carve any sort of meaningful life for himself. He’s married to the (very young) lovely Lillie and is secure in his millionaire status. But one mention of his tribe and he is once again thrown into the turmoil of their messy confusion.

Hannes – tried to conform by getting married and settling down with his wife and child, but it didn’t work. Now he runs one of the most luxurious game lodges in the world, has a relationship with a brattish, British prince (who he can’t commit to), and can’t control his rebellious teenage daughter.

Tselane – daughter of a South African struggle hero who remains completely detached from her past and who has no roots. Her devotion to Jude has ensured that she’s denied him contact with his tribe for 12 long years and in so doing, she remains rootless.

Jude – everyone’s golden boy, but so lost and so sad. By being so broken can he bring his tribe back together and fix them all?

There’s a heady arrogance to this group that’s infectious. Like the mean girls at school, you want to be a part of this ‘in’ crowd. They’re gorgeous, even when they’re caught up in a drug-induced haze of reminiscent, melancholic regret – and that’s in the beginning when they’re still fairly young!

You’ll hate them, and then you’ll hate yourself for hating them! And then you’ll question everything about your own tribe; your past and your present, and who you really want to take with you into your future. There is an unexpected depth here that will keep you pondering for days after you’ve finished reading the actual book itself.

An added bonus is the haunting music score that runs throughout the book, and which is listed at the end. Yes, there have been many coming of age books written, and I’m sure there will be loads more to come, but the musical DNA that’s been woven through this particular book is what gives it its uniquely individual soul.

Let the younger generation try and claim this one for themselves. They will fail because this one is OURS. Well done Rahla Xenopoulos!

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