What strategies and techniques does Beverley Naidoo use to provide a safe distance for adolescent readers while at the same time dealing with difficult and disturbing content?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Naidoo's work compels the reader of any age to address some rather uncomfortable aspects of reality.  Naidoo treats the adolescent reader in a mature manner, capable of wrestling with challenging aspects of reality in a manner through which life lessons are recognized.

One element of "distance" is in the fictional construction of the narrative.  Naidoo uses fiction to help create a barrier in which the stories are real, but the characters themselves are not.  This helps the adolescent reader who might be challenged by the subject matter to take sanctuary in such distance.  The fictional element helps to create a "safe distance" for the adolescent reader to understand the brutal reality outlined in the novel, but do so in a way that is not so emotionally challenging.

Another element of distance is the Sade narrative of wanting to help her father.  This point in the novel becomes a type of adventure story.  To be able to see if she can succeed in being able to help her father and unify her family enables the adolescent reader to take sanctuary in what is happening, moving them away from the political drama of the story.  These techniques help the reader to establish a distance in which being impacted by the narrative does not translate to being terrified by it.


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