Jelly Dog Days
Jelly Dog Days is a story told through the eyes of a young girl, Theresa, who grows up in the racist working class suburbs of Johannesburg during the 1960s and 1970s.
After living in Turfontein, Bez Valley, Little Falls and Malvern, the family moves to Claremont when Theresa is eight where they seem to settle down. However, despite the household appearing to have found some geographical stability, it becomes clear as time passes that Theresa’s childhood is slowly being chipped away. She has to learn to survive a highly dysfunctional family where the people who are meant to protect and care for her, increasingly let her down. Her mother, a neglectful, narcissistic, woman sinks into alcoholism and retreats from all parental responsibility, while her stepfather Piet, the more attentive parent, begins to exact a very high price for his affections. Theresa’s strong personality, resilience and fortitude assist her to navigate this constant, unremitting family pressure. She shows a remarkable passion for life and an innate optimism. Most importantly, she forms a very strong bond with her childhood nanny, Sophie who represents the one of the few trustworthy adults in her world.
As the title unfolds Terry is drawn unwittingly into the struggles of June 1976 when Rex, Sophie’s son disappears in the political mayhem of the times. She participates in Sophie’s struggle to find him, while in her own life, an equally treacherous and difficult journey unfolds in parallel. She is forced to confront challenges that no young person should have to deal with and maintain some kind of mechanism to survive.
The story is set in white Johannesburg of the period; it is a tale of trust and treachery. But most importantly, it is about survival and to some extent redemption.