Beyond Fences: A Memoir: 1937 – 1970
Part autobiography, part history lesson, and part homage to a land its people – Beyond Fences is Helge Staby Deaton’s story of the land she grew up on and the people who embraced her, despite the surface differences.
Beyond Fences tells the story of one of the least-known regions in Africa – the nation of South-West Africa. South-West Africa (or SWA to the locals) flies so far under the radar that a U.S Postal worker swore up and down to her that such a location does not exist. Incensed, Deaton informed this poor young man that she grew up in SWA and that it, in fact, does exist. The problem was solved and the package was sent – but this speaks to the reason Deaton felt compelled to bring this swath of land and its inhabitants (her family) into the light.
She traces the history of the land back in time through the history of her own family, starting with her great-grandfather J.W. Redecker. J.W. emigrated from Germany in 1867 to colonize this land to grow grains, fruits and vegetables in support of those who were doing missionary work. And the family just never left. Through interviewing family members, raiding old documents and talking to those who knew the land way back when, Deaton is able to paint the most amazing picture of this unknown locale that had me itching to get on the plane to see the wonders for myself.
Overall, this was an amazing read. The homage to her land and its people was touching and compelling. Her research into the past history of the nation was impeccable. The writing was lyrical and beautiful and the storyline flowed wonderfully. I was enraptured from the beginning straight through the end. Beyond Fences has my vote 100 percent.
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