If You Want to Make God Laugh
From the author of the beloved Hum if You Don't Know the Words comes a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time, and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that jeopardize her life.Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it's what she can't have that leads to her breakdown. Meanwhile, in Zaire, a disgraced former nun, Delilah, grapples with a past that refuses to stay buried. When these personal crises send both middle-aged women back to their rural hometown to lick their wounds, the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby upends everything, challenging their lifelong beliefs about race, motherhood, and the power of the past.As the mystery surrounding the infant grows, the complicated lives of Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah become inextricably linked. What follows is a mesmerizing look at family and identity that asks: How far will the human heart go to protect itself and the ones it loves?

If You Want to Make God Laugh Details

TitleIf You Want to Make God Laugh
Author
ReleaseJul 16th, 2019
PublisherG.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN-139780735219311
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Southern Africa, South Africa, Cultural, Africa

If You Want to Make God Laugh Review

  • Travel.with.a.book
    January 1, 1970
    There's no doubt that Bianca is one of my favourite debut Author so reading an ARC of her second book is a really indescribable feeling and for that I want to thank Jordan from Putnam and the Author for providing me with this wonderful book!If You Want To Make God Laugh takes place in South Africa during the late '90s and the Author's portraying is so fascinating!.The prose that you'll read in this novel is really intriguing filled with some interesting topics which include rasicm, the corruptio There's no doubt that Bianca is one of my favourite debut Author so reading an ARC of her second book is a really indescribable feeling and for that I want to thank Jordan from Putnam and the Author for providing me with this wonderful book!If You Want To Make God Laugh takes place in South Africa during the late '90s and the Author's portraying is so fascinating!.The prose that you'll read in this novel is really intriguing filled with some interesting topics which include rasicm, the corruption in church and some other ones that I'm not going to spoil! Bianca has a really unique way to blow our minds and dwell us in her fantastic love and hope story! Bianca has merged survival and strength in a perfect way to bring us a unique experience from her fascinating characters!.This is not my first book from Bianca to end it with tears so I wasn't surprised to wet the last pages but it really is worth reading and I can't wait for June so you can read it too! Also the cover is so beautiful and glamorous and it's making my shelf even more beautiful! A very interesting fact for this book is that it references back to Bianca's first book Hum If You Don't Know The Words, not that it's a sequel but you can learn more from some characters! .I'm so happy to have Bianca my favourite Author because she is so powerful elaborating a very intriguing and hard topic and still can manage to bring the best from it! The characters were so enjoyable and every act from the Author was reasonable and mature and that's a very important part from a book to read, the book has kept me captivating and the whole book has put me through tears and laughs all the journey and I highly recommend you to pre-order this wonderful book!.I loved the three main characters Zowda, Delilah and Ruth, their personalities were very interesting and different but surviving their problems was a really intriguing journey to dive and highly recommended!!
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  • Jennifer Blankfein
    January 1, 1970
    Loved it so much! Photos for this review and other reviews and recommendations on https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com.I loved the author’s debut, Hum if you Don’t Know the Words, and feel the same about this wonderful upcoming novel out this summer. The beauty and strength of the South African women will stick with you…PREORDER your copy today!If You Want to Make God Laugh is the fast moving and compelling story of three ladies, Zodwa, Ruth and Delilah, set in South Africa. Easy to read chapte Loved it so much! Photos for this review and other reviews and recommendations on https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com.I loved the author’s debut, Hum if you Don’t Know the Words, and feel the same about this wonderful upcoming novel out this summer. The beauty and strength of the South African women will stick with you…PREORDER your copy today!If You Want to Make God Laugh is the fast moving and compelling story of three ladies, Zodwa, Ruth and Delilah, set in South Africa. Easy to read chapters alternate points of view:Zodwa is young girl, raped, pregnant, living in a squatter camp and ashamed of her romantic feelings of infatuation with her close girl friend. When her baby is born, she was taken from her and later the same day her mother dies, leaving her alone, desperate and feeling lost.Delilah was raped when she was a teenager and was forces to leave her child at the convent she was excommunicated from due to her pregnancy. She spent her years repenting while working at an orphanage, alone and lost.After a career of stripping and feeling unhappy in her relationship, Delilah’s older sister, Ruth left her husband feeling sad and regretful for never being able to have a child. Ruth and Delilah hadn’t spoken to each other since they were young.The estranged sisters meet at their parent’s empty house, Ruth intending to sell it and Delilah hoping to live there. Tension runs high between the siblings, but after a newborn black baby was left on the doorstop, Ruth realizes her calling is to adopt this child and give him the life he deserves. Delilah is not in agreement and so much pain rises to the surface due to the past. As the sisters work to break down walls and understand each other’s emotions, they are faced with prejudice and harassment from the neighbors. The sisters decide to secure the house and hire a live in maid to help with the baby.If You Want to Make God Laugh is a masterfully written emotional journey of three women where everyone is either running to or from something as they try to find peace and understand in their calling. It is a testament to the incredible strength women have and what lengths mothers will go to to protect and care for their children.Q and A with author Bianca MaraisHow did you come up with the title If You Want to Make God Laugh? The words appear once in the text – do you write the book first and then choose the title out of the text or do you fit in the words of the title after the book is written? Was this the same process for Hum?HUM was originally going to be called ‘It Aint Over Till the Fat Lady Sings’ because I envisioned Mama Fatty, the shebeen queen of Soweto, singing at the end. But that changed during the writing of the book when Robin’s aunt Edith tells her to hum if she doesn’t know the words to a hymn at her parents’ funeral. That line stayed with me because it was such a great metaphor for what the characters were going through.With LAUGH, the title stuck from the beginning because of that saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” which really sums up what all three of these women are going through. It’s always a thrill for me to write the title into the book because I love discovering the title when I’m reading a novel.It comes clear while reading the novel that for your characters, having ideas and making plans for the future have minimal impact on how things turn out. Do you believe in fate? How much control do you think we have of our future?Oh wow, this is a tough question. I think we have a lot of control over our lives in that the decisions we make today will influence the way things play out for us down the line. Work hard and you’ll generally reap the benefits. Be a kind person and it will definitely have a knock-on effect in both your life and in the lives of others. Take care of your health and you’ll live longer than if you treated your body like a garbage can.But there are definitely things in life that we can’t possibly see coming: accidents, illnesses, bad luck. And this is the part that’s tough for me as an A-type Capricorn to accept: that there are certain things in our lives that are completely beyond our control. And that we can be good people and do good things, and we can plan and save and do everything right and still have tragedy strike. But even when the unimaginable happens, we then still have agency in terms of how we move forward and how we handle that situation which is what the women in my story show: how to keep going when the worst has happened.In terms of believing in fate: it’s hard not to believe that some things are fated because they seem so improbable and yet they happen regardless. I want to believe in fate and that some things are meant to be. AIDS was an epidemic in South Africa at the time of the story and in it, the white people seemed to put blame and shame on the black women and children…what about the black men? Did we just not see it in the story because the black men did not infiltrate the white people’s world in the same way that black women maids and housekeepers did? Black families were torn apart during apartheid with most black men being forced to work in gold mines and black women having to work as maids in the city. Husbands and wives got separated from their children and lived miles and miles apart from one another, often only seeing one another once a year. This led to the disintegration of the black family and allowed the perfect conditions for the spreading the HIV virus. Also, many black men refused to wear condoms despite having multiple sexual partners which put women at greater risk. Since most of the black men worked in gold mines or as laborers, they weren’t a part of white people’s lives like black women were. These were the women caring for white people’s children, living in their homes and being a huge part of their daily existence. When they began to get sick, white people were forced to take notice of the epidemic and focused that attention on the people who were closest to them and therefore at most risk of passing the virus onto them. The saying Blood is Thicker Than Water means relationships built through choices will never be as strong as family bonds. The bonds your characters have seem to support this theory; Delilah and Ruth slowly reconcile through the course of the book (so skillfully written, I might add, that at first they were so at odds, and without realizing it, little by little they developed a wonderful, supportive relationship right before our eyes), Zodwa and Mandla felt connected the moment they met, Delilah and Daniel were drawn together virtually although they never met. How do you feel about this?Family bonds are incredibly strong in the story in all the ways you mentioned but I also believe that friendships and the relationships we choose can be just as strong if not stronger. I believe that it’s hardship and struggle that truly puts a relationship to the test, and it’s in overcoming adversity that true bonds are forged whether they’re familial or of another nature. Something I find fascinating is that often the people who are meant to love us most are the ones who can hurt us the deepest which we see playing out with Ruth and Delilah. For me, the important thing is choice. Choosing to work on a relationship and to be there for someone through the difficulties, and choosing to have them in your life. How did you come up with the rustic home environment for Zodwa?A lot of Zodwa’s experience in the squatter camp was inspired by my ten years of volunteering in squatter camps in Soweto and the rest of Johannesburg. Here are some photos from that time.P1010061.JPG P1010237.JPG P1010024.JPG P1010264.JPG P1010064.JPG P1010269.JPG P1010271.JPGIt was a joy to see Beauty and Robin from Hum weaved into this story…did you start this new book with them in mind with the story growing out of them or did you add them in after?I started writing the sequel to HUM which I never got to finish, and so it’s always been very clear in my mind what Robin and Beauty were doing in the 90s. When I started writing this book, I very much wanted to incorporate their stories in this one but in an organic way so that if readers hadn’t read HUM, they wouldn’t find Robin and Beauty’s presence strange. It was lovely to get to spend time with them again and to give HUM readers a glimpse into their futures.All of your characters have lost so much. They are all searching for something…Ruth wants to fulfill her lifelong dream to be a mother, Delilah wants to connect with Daniel, Leleti wanted to find her son, Zodwa wants to be a mother to Mandla…they also have secrets from suicide attempts, to a secret child to sexual orientation. These women are so well developed with a past, present and hopes for the future; do you have a formula you use or a certain process to create them?Thank you. That’s a wonderful compliment!I don’t have a formula, per se. I always start with characters. They come to me before the plot or the storyline comes to me. I see these characters as real people who are struggling with something and that then forms the basis of the story. I write to get to know them better and by the end of the book, I always know so much more about my characters than what finds its way onto the page. In that way, they become real to me. If I’m not suffering and laughing and crying with them while I write, then I’m not connected to them and how can I expect my reader to be? If this were to become a movie, who would you want to play the main characters? When I write, I often picture characters as actors or people I know, etc. They were pictured as follows for LAUGH though they obviously couldn’t all play the characters now:Ruth: Debbie Reynolds Delilah: Dame Judie DenchZodwa: Lupita Nyong’oRiaan: James Brolin Vince: John GoodmanLeleti: Lupita Nyong’o’s mother, Dorothy Nyong’oThembeka: A young Leleti Khumalo (a South African actress)Here is what my vision board looked like while writing LAUGH:image1.jpegWhat are you working on next?In a complete change of genre for me, I’m working on a psychological thriller. I thought I’d try my writing chops at murder, sex and mayhem. I’m having a lot of fun! LOL.
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  • Bianca
    January 1, 1970
    For fans of ‘Hum If You Don’t Know the Words’ who were hoping for the story to continue... this isn’t a sequel but look out for Beauty and Robin who make cameo appearances in ‘If You Want to Make God Laugh’.I absolutely loved writing this book and I really hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
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  • Kirsten
    January 1, 1970
    Can I please give this book 6 stars? Forget the sophomore slum, If You Want to Make God Laugh is a truly spectacular follow-up to Bianca Marais’s first novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. Marais’ emotional depiction of South Africa during the late ‘90s results in a stunning novel with depth. She covers racism, homophobia, the AIDS epidemic, and corruption in church, with eye-opening frankness and heart. Her characters take root in your mind from the first page. I found myself laughing, cheer Can I please give this book 6 stars? Forget the sophomore slum, If You Want to Make God Laugh is a truly spectacular follow-up to Bianca Marais’s first novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. Marais’ emotional depiction of South Africa during the late ‘90s results in a stunning novel with depth. She covers racism, homophobia, the AIDS epidemic, and corruption in church, with eye-opening frankness and heart. Her characters take root in your mind from the first page. I found myself laughing, cheering, and crying along with their story. The ending left me absolutely shattered as I read through tears. Yet somehow, through the many difficult topics, Marais manages to weave a story filled with love and hope. The writing is prosaic. I found myself re-reading certain lines to chew on the kernels of truth so eloquently written. Every word, every sentence, has meaning to the story. I also loved that references back to HUM. It’s not necessary to read HUM first, but you’ll understand a bit more of a few characters if you do.I can’t say I’m surprised that Marais wrote such a stunning novel. I look forward to reading whatever she writes in the future.
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  • Nina Carboni
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent! I had high hopes for this bc I loved this author’s debut, Hum if You Don’t Know the Words and I wasn’t let down. This author somehow tackles the hardest of subject matter without making it too much to bear. The misery that these characters face runs the gamut of the worst of the worst and yet their humanity and hope and the universal want for a better life for themselves and their children make it so you see yourself in them and wonder if you would rise to the occasion if faced person Excellent! I had high hopes for this bc I loved this author’s debut, Hum if You Don’t Know the Words and I wasn’t let down. This author somehow tackles the hardest of subject matter without making it too much to bear. The misery that these characters face runs the gamut of the worst of the worst and yet their humanity and hope and the universal want for a better life for themselves and their children make it so you see yourself in them and wonder if you would rise to the occasion if faced personally with the same difficulties. Read this book people!!!!!!!!!!
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  • Charmaine Shepherd
    January 1, 1970
    I think I can safely say that this is my best read of 2018 and probably my all time favourite book. I found the characters so easy to connect to and I laughed and cried and then laughed and cried again. The book touched me so much that I went back and read it again. It is such a beautiful story of human frailty and challenging the lifelong beliefs that we all hold.
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  • Alesa
    January 1, 1970
    This novel set in South Africa, as apartheid is officially over and Nelson Mandela is being elected president, is fascinating. It looks at numerous important issues, such as interracial relationships, motherhood, sisterhood, the power of the church, lesbianism, rape, AIDS, neo-Nazi gangs and more. It is definitely a woman's book in this regard; all main characters are female. It has a tightly crafted plot, much like a jigsaw puzzle, where every piece fits at the end. I admired the author for her This novel set in South Africa, as apartheid is officially over and Nelson Mandela is being elected president, is fascinating. It looks at numerous important issues, such as interracial relationships, motherhood, sisterhood, the power of the church, lesbianism, rape, AIDS, neo-Nazi gangs and more. It is definitely a woman's book in this regard; all main characters are female. It has a tightly crafted plot, much like a jigsaw puzzle, where every piece fits at the end. I admired the author for her skill in this regard.The book follows three women -- two childless white sisters in their 50's, and an 18-year-old black woman. The black woman gives birth to a baby, and her mother leaves it on the doorstep of the white sisters. They then must deal with their lifelong issues about motherhood, racism, and the resentful relationship between the two of them. I would really give this 4.5 stars if possible, because I had a hard time liking any of the main characters. They all face a total lack of self-esteem, which leads to few cheery moments and an overall sense of gloom and despair. Short chapters switch between each of the three women, which I found to be disruptive, especially since some characters use first person and others third. However, we do see a great deal of transformation (spiritual, emotional, social) in each of the women, which is what makes the ending powerful and satisfying. The plot moves on at an engaging clip, and there are some lovely passages of insight. For instance, "Sometimes all we need is to be seen in order to blossom. Just be seen, nothing more." Here's another. "Her expression was one of such judgment that I couldn't find words to reply." "When it comes to these kinds of prejudices, you don't need to be one of the idiots actively shouting your racism from the rooftops; silence and inertia are collusion, and I will be complicit no longer." "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." So true...I felt that some of the plot devices were a bit much. Having two women raped (under different circumstances), getting pregnant from a single rape, and ending up without their babies; a woman contracting AIDS from a single sexual encounter, etc. I loved a surprise twist at the end, however, which added a new dimension to viewing the apartheid struggle. Also, the three main characters almost seemed like three facets of the same person in their attitude to life. I wasn't completely convinced that the author understood in her bones what it means to be a lesbian teenager, or an addict, or a nun.Still, I'm very glad that I persisted in finishing this book. Recommended. And thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy of this novel.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    As much of a WOW! as Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. If I wasn't sold on Bianca Marais after meeting her at Booktopia last year...If I wasn't sold on Bianca Marais after reading Hum If You Don’t Know the Words...This book will do it.Well developed characters, situations, resolutions, and explanation of a culture that I will only experience in books.I am so thankful for Net Galley allowing me the pleasure of reading an ARC for my honest review.
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  • Beyondthebookends
    January 1, 1970
    Bianca Marais’s sophomore novel, If You Want to Make God Laugh, is a brilliant work of literary fiction that has left me in its wake weeks after I finished. Thank you so much for my copy of this book!!! This story examines difficult topics with such love and sensitivity. From AIDS and poverty to racism and homophobia, this isn’t a book that you can skim over parts. Every word has its place but, it is written so poetically that I found myself trying to remember the words of wisdom within the page Bianca Marais’s sophomore novel, If You Want to Make God Laugh, is a brilliant work of literary fiction that has left me in its wake weeks after I finished. Thank you so much for my copy of this book!!! This story examines difficult topics with such love and sensitivity. From AIDS and poverty to racism and homophobia, this isn’t a book that you can skim over parts. Every word has its place but, it is written so poetically that I found myself trying to remember the words of wisdom within the pages. If I could give more than 5 stars I would. I laughed and cried with the characters in this book whose stories captivated me from the first page.
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  • Clair Gibson
    January 1, 1970
    Bianca Marais has established herself as a ‘must have’ on my bookshelf. I loved her debut novel so had high hopes for this one. I wasn’t disappointed. Marais brings to life post-apartheid South Africa with characters to truly care about. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming - sadly I was at the end all too soon. I’ll definitely revisit it again in the future.
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  • Breakaway Reviewers
    January 1, 1970
    A storyline to capture your soul.Zodwa Khumalo is seventeen-years-old and has discovered that she is pregnant. She hopes that by visiting the sangoma or witch doctor and drinking the herbal mixture, she's given it will abort the baby. Unfortunately, the muti doesn't work, and the pregnancy that should never have happened will go ahead.Delilah Ferguson is working in a refugee centre in Zaire when a letter arrives with news that someone she cares for deeply, has been shot and is in a coma. She lea A storyline to capture your soul.Zodwa Khumalo is seventeen-years-old and has discovered that she is pregnant. She hopes that by visiting the sangoma or witch doctor and drinking the herbal mixture, she's given it will abort the baby. Unfortunately, the muti doesn't work, and the pregnancy that should never have happened will go ahead.Delilah Ferguson is working in a refugee centre in Zaire when a letter arrives with news that someone she cares for deeply, has been shot and is in a coma. She leaves the camp and rushes back to South Africa, with the hope that she will not be too late to see the person as she desperately needs their forgiveness. She moves back to the family farm she’d left some forty years before Ruth is an alcoholic. She's married to Vince and until recently, has lived in the upmarket suburb of Clifton, Cape Town. Vince has grown tired of giving her second chances and has instigated the divorce because he just can't cope with the constant drinking. She decides to return to the town of her birth. The women have not had any contact for years, and it's a massive shock for them to find themselves living under the same roof. Ruth's drinking is an irritation for Delilah and Delilah’s staid ways equally irksome for Ruth.Their lives change forever when on 10 May 1994, they find a newborn baby, accompanied by a huge black German Shepherd cross at the front door. Bianca Marais has linked tumultuous events in South Africa to capture each characters' relationship as the events unfold, beginning with the release of Nelson Mandela. The next major event; South Africans of all colours, queuing alongside each other, waiting to enter their cross next to their chosen candidate and party to win the first real election that took place on 27 April 1994. A day that will remain fixed in my memory as I too sang and danced my way to vote Zodwa gave birth to her baby on the most auspicious day in South Africa, Nelson Mandela's inauguration as President on 10 May 1994. The lives of Zodwa, Delilah and Ruth will be linked from that day forward. This hugely gifted author could have succeeded by merely giving us the story of how the birth of this baby changed the lives of each of the women, but she's added other threads. Delilah’s conversion to Catholicism and her subsequent decision to become a nun. Her excommunication along with its life-changing consequences Ruth’s past as a famous striptease dancer and her decline into alcoholism.Zodwa coming to terms with the truth of who she is and what it means in a traditional Black culture. I lived each of these women’s pain and cheered their survival and strength and their willingness to embrace change regardless of how hard it would be. HIV/AIDS was in its infancy stages during this period. A cure was a long way away, and the diagnosis of this dreaded disease was an instant death sentence. The pandemic changed each of the women. They had to take stock of their lives and decide what was worth fighting for.I found it quite eerie that Bianca Marais could have almost had me in mind while she wrote this book. It's had a massive impact on me, and hopefully, you dear reader will find the same happens for you as the threads of the book sink into every fibre of your body and soul.A book to list in my top five best reads of all time. TreebeardBreakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. An emotional and powerful novel.. The story takes place in South Africa in the early/mid 90s during the transition when the apartheid ended. This novel hit on several deep, emotionally challenging topics. Racism, family conflict, HIV, rape. Having not read many novels during this era or setting, I quickly became immersed and captivated into the story. Three female characters, each with their own issues, become beautifully intertwined. Highly recommend. I will be following this author for fu Wow. An emotional and powerful novel.. The story takes place in South Africa in the early/mid 90s during the transition when the apartheid ended. This novel hit on several deep, emotionally challenging topics. Racism, family conflict, HIV, rape. Having not read many novels during this era or setting, I quickly became immersed and captivated into the story. Three female characters, each with their own issues, become beautifully intertwined. Highly recommend. I will be following this author for future reads! Thank you to Penguin Group Putnam and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.
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  • Kari Ann Sweeney
    January 1, 1970
    ‘If You Want To Make God Laugh’ follows the lives of three strong female characters as they live their truth against the complicated background of post-Apartheid South Africa. I was completely invested in each character. The writing was so vivid that I felt as though I was in the story alongside Ruth, Delilah and Zowda.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀What I admire about Marais is her ability to meet tough topics head on while still allowing light and compassion to shine through. This beautiful story is about mothers, ‘If You Want To Make God Laugh’ follows the lives of three strong female characters as they live their truth against the complicated background of post-Apartheid South Africa. I was completely invested in each character. The writing was so vivid that I felt as though I was in the story alongside Ruth, Delilah and Zowda.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀What I admire about Marais is her ability to meet tough topics head on while still allowing light and compassion to shine through. This beautiful story is about mothers, family, love and loss, and how there isn't one right way to define any of them. I loved it.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀(Side note: I've been interested in South Africa since 1994 when I first read 'The Power of One' by Bryce Courtney. IYWTMGLaugh takes place in the 1990's and it added an element of nostalgia for me.)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀If you haven't read her debut, 'Hum If You Know the Words', do that now. It will tide you over until the July 16th release date for 'If You Want To Make God Laugh'.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Thank you @biancamarais_author for trusting me with an early copy. I can only imagine the real or implied pressure for a sophomore novel, but in my opinion- you nailed it!⠀⠀
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  • Patrick Barry
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fantastic read about three women who for various reasons have lost children. It is about how their best laid life plans have gone awry. Two of the women are until recently estranged older sisters who are at loggerheads about the fate of the family farm and just about everything else for that matter. The other is a young black woman whose hope for a better life is derailed by a most unwelcome pregnancy. The three woman are brought into the same orbit by a magnetic baby boy who was left This is a fantastic read about three women who for various reasons have lost children. It is about how their best laid life plans have gone awry. Two of the women are until recently estranged older sisters who are at loggerheads about the fate of the family farm and just about everything else for that matter. The other is a young black woman whose hope for a better life is derailed by a most unwelcome pregnancy. The three woman are brought into the same orbit by a magnetic baby boy who was left at the doorsteps of the sisters. The book is set in South Africa at the time of the Reconciliation brought about by Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. The chance at reconciliation has also arrived for the three women. Can the joy of a baby be the catalyst for these women to turn their heads from a bitter past to a better future?This was a great read, easily the best book I have read this year! I was lucky, literally, to get a copy of the ARC for this book. It will be released in July and is a story that no one who loves a good story should overlook.
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  • Jill Dobbe
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book which was set in South Africa and deals in small ways with the ending of apartheid and the election of Mandela as the first Black president. Most importantly, it is a story about mothers, children, love, secrets and heartache, and the lengths mothers will go to to protect their children. Written in the voices of the three main characters, each woman has her own issues and her own stories to tell. The three women are brought together by their mutual devotion and love for a child I loved this book which was set in South Africa and deals in small ways with the ending of apartheid and the election of Mandela as the first Black president. Most importantly, it is a story about mothers, children, love, secrets and heartache, and the lengths mothers will go to to protect their children. Written in the voices of the three main characters, each woman has her own issues and her own stories to tell. The three women are brought together by their mutual devotion and love for a child that enters their lives in unexpected ways. Written with tenderness and a knowledge of South Africa and its violent ways, If You Want to Make God Laugh is a moving story that will grab your interest from the very beginning.Thank you NetGalley and G. P. Putnam's Sons, Publisher
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  • Alek Trpkovski
    January 1, 1970
    Fans of Marais’ first novel know the depth and richness of her characterization, and her new work accomplishes even more in building real, beautiful and compelling human beings. This book will absorb you, and it will work its way deeply into your heart.
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  • Brendan Fisher
    January 1, 1970
    This novel is a must-read! I didn't think it was possible, but I loved 'If You Want to Make God Laugh' more than I loved 'Hum If You Don't Know The Words'. It was so captivating that I couldn't put this book down! It is both heart-breaking and heart warming. Rarely can a book bring me to tears and then give me a good chuckle a few pages later. Bianca Marais hits so many important issues and themes without it feeling forced and contrived all the while delivering a powerful and beautiful story of This novel is a must-read! I didn't think it was possible, but I loved 'If You Want to Make God Laugh' more than I loved 'Hum If You Don't Know The Words'. It was so captivating that I couldn't put this book down! It is both heart-breaking and heart warming. Rarely can a book bring me to tears and then give me a good chuckle a few pages later. Bianca Marais hits so many important issues and themes without it feeling forced and contrived all the while delivering a powerful and beautiful story of three such different, yet strong women. I cannot recommend this book more. Now please excuse me while I go start it all over again...
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  • Toni
    January 1, 1970
    "She knows too that there is no such things as curses; they're just self-inflicted prisons that only have power over us as long as we believe in them. Our luck is what we make of it and all we can ever do is make the most of the time we have."*LAUGH follows the lives of three South African women, each running from their past and looking for peace. These three women's lives will eventually intersect and when they do, hold on because it is a wild ride. Some authors can write entertaining stories a "She knows too that there is no such things as curses; they're just self-inflicted prisons that only have power over us as long as we believe in them. Our luck is what we make of it and all we can ever do is make the most of the time we have."*LAUGH follows the lives of three South African women, each running from their past and looking for peace. These three women's lives will eventually intersect and when they do, hold on because it is a wild ride. Some authors can write entertaining stories and sometimes that's all we need but sometimes, authors come along that can write stories that do more: that make us hurt because we can feel the pain the characters feel, that transport us into a world different than our own, and that open their hearts on the page for us to witness and be amazed by. Bianca does this. I was admittedly skeptical because of how much I loved HUM but I absolutely loved this book. If You Want to Make God Laugh is out July 16th! If you haven't already read HUM you have a little time before this one is published. So, go! *Quote is from uncorrected proof
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    I read and loved Hum If You Don't Know the Words so was thrilled to be approved to read this title. Marais did not disappoint. 4.5 but rounding up as each time I put this compelling book down, I could not wait to pick it up again. My only criticism is that this book was chock full of--everything. No spoiler from me, but I wonder if one particular thread were removed, would it have been any less powerful or enjoyable or altered the storyline too much? To name a few: Racism. Poverty. Rape. AIDS. H I read and loved Hum If You Don't Know the Words so was thrilled to be approved to read this title. Marais did not disappoint. 4.5 but rounding up as each time I put this compelling book down, I could not wait to pick it up again. My only criticism is that this book was chock full of--everything. No spoiler from me, but I wonder if one particular thread were removed, would it have been any less powerful or enjoyable or altered the storyline too much? To name a few: Racism. Poverty. Rape. AIDS. Homophobia. The priesthood. Love.South Africa on the eve of Mandela's victory. The lives of three women intersect. Each characters is well-drawn and has her own story. Two white, privileged sisters in their 50s. One downtrodden 17-year old South African woman who lives in a squatter camp outside Johannesburg. Addtionally, there are others--male and female--who influence the trajectory of the plot.Secrets play a significant role in this often heartbreaking novel. Several times, I thought I knew what was coming--and I was correct, but didn't care [though this is often a detraction for me].Some of the prose I loved because it conjured up so much."Some signs have saved my life while others reminded me that I had a life worth saving.""[her mother's remains] "Remains, but of what? What remains when a small life ends too soon?""She soaked up the world around her, becoming bloated with knowledge like a little intellectural tick..."And, towards the end, I must say I was tearing up.I heartily recommend this book.
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  • Kevin Kilmartin
    January 1, 1970
    I imagine that an author faces an unbelievable amount of pressure to live up to the hype surrounding their first novel. Marais’ first, ‘Hum if You Don’t Know the Words’, was an exceptional novel for a debut and I was anxiously awaiting to see how she tackled her second book. I am thrilled to say that she nailed it. I was riveted from start to finish. I cried (a lot), laughed (a little) and cared (enormously)for each of the protagonists. Written with compassion and sensitivity, Bianca doesn’t shy I imagine that an author faces an unbelievable amount of pressure to live up to the hype surrounding their first novel. Marais’ first, ‘Hum if You Don’t Know the Words’, was an exceptional novel for a debut and I was anxiously awaiting to see how she tackled her second book. I am thrilled to say that she nailed it. I was riveted from start to finish. I cried (a lot), laughed (a little) and cared (enormously)for each of the protagonists. Written with compassion and sensitivity, Bianca doesn’t shy away from tough subject matter, and what results is a heart-wrenching account of life in the post-Apartheid New South Africa. It’s rare that a novel with such deep, emotional themes and beautiful prose is able to sustain the pace of a thriller, but Marais does this effortlessly. Each character is rendered with such care that they become a part of your life for the period of time that you’re reading the book. I found myself thinking about them throughout the day while away from the book and I couldn’t wait to get home to see how they developed and reacted in the face of tragic circumstances. This novel will always hold a special place in my “book heart” and I am grateful to have been touched by its message of redemption and the healing power of love.
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  • Davi
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing - I think this should be required reading for everyone! I finished 2 days ago and it is still on my mind. “If You Want...” takes a time and culture that (at least in American education) doesn’t get talked about other than in the vaguest of terms and makes its personal and human. Though the story and characters may have been fictional, Bianca Maris has grounded them in her obvious dedication and respect for the people for whom this was not fiction. The themes and topics that this book cov Amazing - I think this should be required reading for everyone! I finished 2 days ago and it is still on my mind. “If You Want...” takes a time and culture that (at least in American education) doesn’t get talked about other than in the vaguest of terms and makes its personal and human. Though the story and characters may have been fictional, Bianca Maris has grounded them in her obvious dedication and respect for the people for whom this was not fiction. The themes and topics that this book covers (racism, gender/sexuality, the reality of what is family, familial responsibly, feminism, what does it mean to love... among others) doesn’t make it the lightest of reads, but oh-so-worth-it!
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  • Caroline (readtotheend on IG)
    January 1, 1970
    Bianca Marais is a masterful storyteller. Her characters are rich, their stories are rich and it's wonderfully pulled together to make for an amazing reading experience. I loved Hum if You Don't Know the Words and and I loved this book as well - Bianca has a way of transporting you into the world that she writes about because the descriptions are so vivid - detailed and complete. I loved seeing how Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah became interconnected and linked. With multiple perspective books it can Bianca Marais is a masterful storyteller. Her characters are rich, their stories are rich and it's wonderfully pulled together to make for an amazing reading experience. I loved Hum if You Don't Know the Words and and I loved this book as well - Bianca has a way of transporting you into the world that she writes about because the descriptions are so vivid - detailed and complete. I loved seeing how Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah became interconnected and linked. With multiple perspective books it can sometimes feel difficult to keep track of each story but with this book, you see the connections fairly early on. Each revelation was like an aha! moment. I love the little cameos that Beauty and Robin made (character's from Bianca's first book). I can go on and on about this book because it's so easy to be passionate about - Bianca Marais is definitely an auto-buy author for me!Thank you to Penguin Group Putnam and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC. Bianca Marais has a beautiful way of building relationships between unlikely characters. I have loved both her books, the characters, the pacing, etc. She is definitely an "auto-buy" author for me.Highly recommend her novels!
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  • Polly-Alida
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating story, wonderfully written. I loved Ms Marais's debut novel, Hum if You Don't Know the Words, and like many other readers I wanted to know more about what happened to the characters in Hum, and wondered if I'd be as engaged with another set of characters in a different time period. I was not disappointed! The 3 women who are the main characters in this novel grabbed my attention immediately and I devoured the book. Towards the end, I slowed down, I didn't want it to end. And yes, y A fascinating story, wonderfully written. I loved Ms Marais's debut novel, Hum if You Don't Know the Words, and like many other readers I wanted to know more about what happened to the characters in Hum, and wondered if I'd be as engaged with another set of characters in a different time period. I was not disappointed! The 3 women who are the main characters in this novel grabbed my attention immediately and I devoured the book. Towards the end, I slowed down, I didn't want it to end. And yes, you do learn a bit about the characters from Hum along the way. Thank you for this story Bianca. I look forward to many more!
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  • Jackie Robins
    January 1, 1970
    I am a huge fan of Bianca Marais after reading her first book Hum if You Don’t Know the Words. So, I had very high hopes for this book. I was not disappointed at all! Ms Marais has done it again with If You Want to Make God Laugh. I absolutely loved it. This beautiful and poignant book follows three woman in South Africa in the 90s. I loved the three distinct voices of these strong women. I never had to look back to see whose perspective I was reading. The characters propel the story with their I am a huge fan of Bianca Marais after reading her first book Hum if You Don’t Know the Words. So, I had very high hopes for this book. I was not disappointed at all! Ms Marais has done it again with If You Want to Make God Laugh. I absolutely loved it. This beautiful and poignant book follows three woman in South Africa in the 90s. I loved the three distinct voices of these strong women. I never had to look back to see whose perspective I was reading. The characters propel the story with their growth and while the story deals with heavy subject matter, I never felt weighted down by it. The writing is gorgeous but I never felt it was too much. Ms. Marais is able to capture lessons of life and express them in such a captivatingly succinct way. I cannot wait for the release-I will be buying copies to give to everyone I know!
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  • Portia
    January 1, 1970
    Bianca Marais has knocked it out of the park again with her new novel If You Want to Make God Laugh. Taking place in South Africa from the day Nelson Mandela is elected onward, following three very different women as they deal with the changing world around them. Race and class are explored, as well as tensions that came from the ending of apartheid. The characters are strong, powerful women and I rooted for them on each and every page. Marais left me picking up the pieces of my broken heart mul Bianca Marais has knocked it out of the park again with her new novel If You Want to Make God Laugh. Taking place in South Africa from the day Nelson Mandela is elected onward, following three very different women as they deal with the changing world around them. Race and class are explored, as well as tensions that came from the ending of apartheid. The characters are strong, powerful women and I rooted for them on each and every page. Marais left me picking up the pieces of my broken heart multiple times.
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Edelweiss and GP Putnam’s Sons for sharing the ARC of this upcoming novel. I loved it. No surprise since I truly enjoyed Bianca Marais’ first novel as well. This is a moving story that I could not put down and it was educational as well. Highly recommend.
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  • Kristen Doyle
    January 1, 1970
    I just finished this gem of a book. I thought it was going to be hard for the author to top her debut novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, but she did it! I just love the way she builds characters you get completely attached to..If You Want to Make God Laugh is a heart filling and heart wrenching look at motherhood, discrimination, terrible trials, hope and redemption in post apartheid South Africa 🇿🇦.Bianca sent me an ARC but you can get it in July. In the meantime read Hum if you haven’t al I just finished this gem of a book. I thought it was going to be hard for the author to top her debut novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, but she did it! I just love the way she builds characters you get completely attached to..If You Want to Make God Laugh is a heart filling and heart wrenching look at motherhood, discrimination, terrible trials, hope and redemption in post apartheid South Africa 🇿🇦.Bianca sent me an ARC but you can get it in July. In the meantime read Hum if you haven’t already!
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  • Lee
    January 1, 1970
    "If You Want To Make God Laugh” is the story of three women in South Africa whose lives intertwine in an awesome narrative that grabbed my your interest from the very beginning. The main storyline is about love, AIDS, secrets, heartbreak and the things mothers will do to protect their children. It also touches on the election of Mandela as president and the ending of apartheid. This is a terrific novel and a very moving story that I didn’t want to end. I highly recommend it! I was fortunate to r "If You Want To Make God Laugh” is the story of three women in South Africa whose lives intertwine in an awesome narrative that grabbed my your interest from the very beginning. The main storyline is about love, AIDS, secrets, heartbreak and the things mothers will do to protect their children. It also touches on the election of Mandela as president and the ending of apartheid. This is a terrific novel and a very moving story that I didn’t want to end. I highly recommend it! I was fortunate to receive this novel from Netgalley as an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an objective review.
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  • Shannon A
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve been a fan of Marais from her debut, her prose is powerful, beautiful & mesmerizes. Her characters face the hard topics and times of South Africa with grace, quick-wit and laughter. I loved every moment of this unforgettable story of facing the past, love, and family.Interesting that this book brings to light something that is making the news now.
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