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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Romanian Review

I have met some pretty amazing people on the Internet, many of whom have become good friends. Some of my Twitter friends even came through to my book launch to see what it was all about. One of the cool people that make the day go by just that little bit faster is Dariana, a blogger from Romania, who couldn’t make it to my launch, but wanted a copy of Fuse all the same. I sent her one and she posted the most amazing review on her blog.

Dariana’s review here

Not too long ago, to my surprise, one of my newest Twitter friends proved to be a successful South African writer. I am saying”to my surprise” because you don’t REALLY get to come close to such an individual, especially when you’re an unknown blogger, practically living at the end of the world to that person.

Her name is Sally-Ann Partridge. Twitter knows her as @Sapartridge. And now I also know her as S. A. Partridge, the novel writer, the 2007 winner of I Am A Writer Competition and 2008 winner of the MER Prize for best youth novel.

The launch of her latest novel took place in June 2009, so I am realizing now that I might be amongst the first international readers of Fuse, and I thank Sally Partridge for sending a copy of her precious work that far away, to Romania! It means she considered me worthy in at least one way. So thanks again, Sally!

Usually, when I set my hands on a book sent/recommended by a friend, I immediately start reading it, even if I am caught into reading something else. I consider it as sort of a duty.

In all these years, I have learned to read books in a more special way. While a teenage would see Fuse as something close to an adventure book, I see it as the radiography of a terrible perception of family and society as rendered through the adventurous life and perspective of two teenage brothers. Anger and indignation, fear and violence, superficiality and cruelty, fear of the world and ourselves, a kid seeking a path on a road that seems to be paved with abrupt walls and a brother striving between his father’s imposed crooked model and his own developing one.

What I like about Sally Partridge is the manner in which she manages to explain the natural origin of some concepts that are usually perceived as being part of a wrong set of values, when in fact they are just part of a ramification of the same positive values of humanity, only understood in a wrong way: like why a teenager would come to be hated for the image he is practically forced to display, by individuals incapable of understanding “different”. Or what is the major cause of kids losing control in high school. Simple, logical explanations to simple but difficult to understand things.

Paratextual elements: The quality of the contract Sally Partridge establishes with the readers, as well as the quality of the message she wants to transmit are ensured by her smart choice of titles, subtitles and division of chapters. It was easy for me to read this novel, because the chapters are short, the story is interesting, intense and told in a fast pace, practically forcing me to want to get to the end as soon as possible. Just like a burning fuse.

Some annotations I made while reading the book. It’s just my perspective. My way of decrypting this text.

Title: Fuse

- a metaphor of life and its fiery struggles towards an explosive or extinct end
- a metaphor of the elder brother, functioning as a hypothetical protective device for safeguarding the younger brother
- a metaphor of melting individualities – different personalities working/experiencing life towards adjusting themselves to one another in the end
Main themes:

- love: brotherly love, motherly love
- adoption
- the building of one’s individuality, which comprises processes of both similarity and difference, the development of one’s personality by both referring to the others and acting by oneself
- sacrifice: self sacrifice, sacrificing the “rotten family” in order to achieve a “purified/perfect family”
- life:

- as a journey – implying steps like planning, evaluating course, providing financial and material resources, etc
- as a fuse – implying a fast unwinding of explosive unexpected events
- as a circle with a broken (the father) replaced ring
Semantic dualities:

- family vs. society (micro and macro cosmos)
- domestic violence vs. violence in society
- innocence/purity vs. corruption
- native vs. adopted
- nature vs. nurture
- common vs. un-common bodies: a gliding from “feeling bad” up to “feeling at ease” in one’s own body
- victim vs. victimizer / bullied vs. bully


- the orphan – the outcast, unloved, unwanted, the impostor – wonderful semantic field used by the author!
- the toys – as metaphors of childhood, hence the “forced handing over of the toys” as a childhood forced into maturity.
- the “dilapidated front garden” – the garden is a wonderful metaphor of the family, I really loved this one, Sally!
- the prison – the body as a prison, the house as a prison, the family as a prison, life as a prison

Dariana is @ForsakenOrder on Twitter.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    August 11th, 2009 @10:51 #

    How amazing to have a reader this careful, thoughtful and intelligent. One of those reviews that does both writer and reader credit :)

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    August 11th, 2009 @11:28 #

    This is such an incredible review. It breaks the book into lovely bite size pieces and expresses exactly what I was trying to achieve. I love it!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    August 11th, 2009 @11:35 #

    She really thought about and understood the book.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Marion</a>
    August 24th, 2009 @16:31 #

    Super special Sally. It's these people that make you put your fingers on the keyboard when you don't want to anymore! Thanks for sharing.


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