Skip to main content

A Novel Idea!: Casting With A Fragile Thread

Casting With A Fragile Thread

 = One & Done

Review by Josie Mae R.

Casting with a Fragile Thread by Wendy Kann is an honest account, at least in the author’s narrow viewpoint, of the author's childhood in Zimbabwe, formally known as Rhodesia. While this story is highly personal, beginning with the death of her sister, and ultimately connecting with her past growing up in the country, it considers the Rhodesian Civil War, the totality of white privilege/colonialism, and the political climate the author grew up in and left behind without making it a central focus, which becomes difficult to stomach, as we read about the 8 million darker skinned native African people who are largely ignored and unconnected with in this narrative. We see her self-awareness and world-view change as she grows a little bit, and her personal family story is interesting, if almost typical, but Kann never seems to face her family's' role in colonialism or racism, even as an adult. At one point in the story, the author says that as a 30 something year old adult growing up with native Zimbabweans, it is only after her sisters' death and in caring for her nephew with a household servant that she first feels an actual connection to a black person. Wendy grew up the oldest daughter, privileged, in a separate but equal version of Africa, only seeing a small part of the story, and never choosing to look outside it. While a good read, and while Wendy Kann did not have the ideal childhood one would assume, as she grew up in a broken home with an alcoholic dysfunctional mother, and she lost her father early on, she paints an idealistic colonial view of a white Africa, without ever giving much thought to anything but the white experience. Part memoir, part accounting, this is a book worth reading, if for one white woman's perspective on a colonial childhood with an increasingly fragile thread between sisters among a home broken, but it must be read knowing that this is but one fragile and indistinct thread among many, marginalizing the Rhodesian and Zimbabwean story.