Spots is the first book in the autobiographic trilogy of the life of Judy Bester Brummer. Hers is a story of a white girl of British ancestry growing up with her two African best friends in apartheid South Africa. Their lives unfold on a rural farm in the middle of the Karoo outback, which provides the young girls with plenty of exciting adventures and shields them from the political turmoil that is beginning to swirl around them.
As they grow up they have to find their own places in their own cultures. Their lives take drastically different paths and they have to learn how to maintain their friendship across racial, cultural and religious barriers.
This book gives a realistic account of everyday life in one of the most controversial political situations of the 20th Century. It takes an unapologetic look at the complexities and simplicities of love and friendship.
Spots is also now available to purchase as an ebook through this link!
March 4, 2014
"Once again...children have to teach us life's lessons. In the Rainbow nation of South Africa during the 60's, three innocent children cross the 'Great Divide' of Apartheid and become friends, despite their cultural, traditional and physical differences. Most people, especially other South Africans, will resonate with the entertaining vignettes of boarding school, sea-side vacations and wandering snakes in wrong places...Thank you, Judy, for a wonderful memoir, not only for your family and posterity, but for other South Africans who hail from a similar childhood. l look forward to reading more about the teenage years of Sinde, Tombe and Judy."
March 2, 2014
"What a delightful, funny and entertaining book. I giggled myself silly at times. It brought back many lovely memories of living in South Africa during those years.
The stories and little adventures are wonderful! You can clearly see through the children's eyes what they felt was the right thing to do.
Absolutely loved it and can't wait for the next one!!"
Retired IBM Vice President
February 17, 2014
"I just finished reading Spots and felt compelled to write a review of this marvelous work that not only took me back to South Africa, where I lived for several years of my adult life, but back to my own childhood in the 50's and 60's in the states as well.
Judy Brummer is a masterful, descriptive writer, and she has beautifully preserved so many details from her very unique childhood that are now available for all to enjoy. Her ability to write convincingly in a child's voice with a childlike perspective was enthralling to me. Having spent considerable time in P.E., Grahamstown, Port Alfred and other areas of the Eastern Cape, It was easy for me to picture where many of the events of the book took place, but I could also vividly picture Schelmdrift in the Karoo and Kasouga by the sea as though I had been there myself, with Judy and her family, and on the banks of Bumpy with the picanins, Tombe and Sindie.
Spots is a wonderful 'coming of age' story that unfolds beautifully as Judy sincerely seeks answers to the major questions of life and luck while grappling with, in her young mind, the profound dilemmas of race and culture! I can't wait for Spotlight andSpotless!"
R Brant Monson
COL US ARMY (RET)
January 30, 2014
"This book is infectious! Judy has taken us back to her beloved ranch (Schelmdrift) in Eastern Cape South Africa 1964, peeled back the din of time and gives an unabashed tour of her youth through the eyes of a child. By the time I finished the first chapter, I was homesick for the farm I grew up on and the wonderful parents who taught us the truths and marvels of life by living it.
Her frank observations on the ranch are great reflections of a simple yet unforgiving way of life. She gives a marvelous glimpse into the simple complexities of 'living off the land'. I could smell the cattle and flowers mixed with dust and sunshine. Above all, you see the courage, love and unswerving sense of justice that Judy was born with. Her dear native friends Tombe and Sindie will make you laugh, smile and just be enlightened. You won’t be disappointed."
Middle School English Teacher
January 27, 2014
"Spots by Judy Brummer is a delightful read. I expected her childhood in South Africa to be exotic and completely foreign to my Utah life, but as I read, I found many experiences of growing up on a farm or ranch to be universal -childhood friends and family love are the same around the world. I look forward to the next books, but expect to learn of difficulties in maintaining the friendships as the three girls grow older.
I enjoyed learning a little of the Xhosa language as I read. I envy Ms. Brummer's ability to master such a complex tongue! I recommend Spots to anyone who wants to laugh and learn of an interesting life.
I would love to read this with students. There are so many opportunities for thought provoking discussions."
January 19, 2014
"I was hooked immediately upon finding out the unusual friendship between these three girls...two black, one white in South Africa during the 1960's. The story is beautifully written and captures the true sadness of the racial inequality of the three friends because of society's restrictions. I loved the interaction between the three friends, the love they share for each other and also the amazing true stories of the "situations" these three inquisitive girls find themselves in. Truly a must read for any one who wants to gain a greater knowledge of racial relations and have a wonderful experience with the innocence of three young friends who are affected by society's unfair rules. I can hardly wait for Book Two in the series!"
January 18, 2014
"Spots took a spot in my heart! Judy has a rare gift of writing. Having visited South Africa the scenes played out in my mind. I laughed and cried and marveled at her deep thoughts. I admire Judy's ability to translate and speak the Xhosa language. The book is a wonderful adventure! No wonder Judy is such a great speaker!"
January 17, 2014
"What a delightful read! Having been raised in South Africa too, but growing up in a very different environment to Judy, I was curious to read her story. It was captivating! I laughed and laughed, and occasionally shed a tear. She captured the joy and angst of South Africa during the harsh apartheid days of the 60's. Her escapades, along with her dear childhood friends, Tombe and Sindie, were riveting. Frogs eggs, wild horses, transistor radios, pomegranates and snakes in trees are all part of the kaleidoscope of Judy's world. Your money will be very well spent if you purchase and read Spots."
January 16, 2014
"Judy Brummer was 'lucky' indeed to grow up in the Karoo of South Africa on her beloved farm, Schelmdrift. The tale of her childhood with her two Xhosa friends, Tombe and Sindie is fascinating. I felt at times that I was reading a story that took place in the 1800's instead of the 1960's.
I was impressed by the workings of Judy's mind and the depth of her reasoning at such a young age. She blended her two worlds and incorporated the best of both into her life. Judy's conscience, intelligence, and intuition led her to the conclusion that people can change. She was prepared for the changes that came to South Africa through her own experiences and great heart.
I am so looking forward to her next book and feel 'lucky' to have spent a few hours in the Karoo with Judy Brummer."
Graduate of Schaeffer School of Color and Design - San Francisco, CA 1965
January 15, 2014
"It is a unique and rare group of gifts that Judy Brummer was able to bring to her book, 'Spots', which tells of her young life while living in South Africa during the years of African Apartheid. Her first gift to us is to reach into herself and bring out her 'innocent child' with all the memories of events while with…the most rare of gifts…the ability to remember her ponderings and deep questions concerning life while living a Tom Sawyer-isque tale. Read just the first chapter and you will be hooked. You will laugh out loud and at the same time feel the natural love she and her Xhosa friends have for one another. Your curiosity will be drawn ever forward as she stuns us with natural happenings to her, while to us, it sounds like she was in another world. We are instantly drawn to her siblings and parents whose English ancestors settled the Karoo, the 'outback' of South Africa. We embrace them as if they are long lost relatives who have just walked into the room where we are reading about their lives.
She is so clear in portraying her and her family’s view of that time and yet equally able to, without bias, but unbound love, understand and accept the Xhosa native life and people as if they were hers also. She does not 'balance on the line of acceptance'; for us, she boldly erases it with her childhood feet walking, dancing or stubbornly planted, herself speaking perfect isi Xhosa as if all people in the universe have always been bound to one another in pure love and acceptance.
Yes, you will find unanswered ponderings, which slowly grow into monumental questions as she grows into maturity. Her innocent child-mind sorts and resorts and all the while she looks for the answers of perfect simple principles, which she naturally lives to this day, that of love for humanity…another rare gift!
I cannot leave this review without mentioning the perfectly wonderful book jacket and inner work of the layout done by her young daughter, Shayla, a student of graphic design. Her work is perfect. The whole of her design effort unifies her mother’s words to perfection. If I had space I would write an entire paper on why that is so. One would think that she has had years of experience in her craft! Indeed, her daughter, Tessa, is on equal footing with her editing. In all, one would not guess this was a first endeavor. On all their parts they exhibit seasoned work.
Finally, Judy carries you to your own thoughts and ponderings and experiences that are akin to hers…or opposite to hers. She accomplishes the ability for us to embrace our own life and experiences to make good of our life as we visit hers.
I am so looking forward to the next two books in this trilogy."
January 12, 2104
"Judy Bester Brummer has written a wonderful account of the early years of her own life. Having grown up in Southern Africa (in what is now Rhodesia and Zambia), but outside South Africa, I was largely unaware of how things were in South Africa during the apartheid era. Judy has written this book without apology for how she was raised (and it needs no apology). It highlights some of the sad parts of the country and its government, with Judy being raised in innocence of life outside her farm home in the Eastern Cape. That innocence allows her to share her unique experience and comment on her desire to know how things worked in life. It also gives us a glimpse of the joy and magic from being raised on a remote farm in an almost idyllic lifestyle (outside of the boarding school experience).
I realized very early on that this book was going to be a good read. In the chapter, 'Frieda the Friend', Judy had to interact with a girl of similar age but of Afrikaans heritage compared to Judy’s British (English speaking) upbringing. Neither could understand the other since Judy did not really speak Afrikaans and Frieda had the same problem with English. By chance they both discovered they could communicate in the Xhosa language, a language of one of the nine black tribes of Africa. I was chuckling away to myself as I imagined the surprise on their mothers. Communication is SO important in life!
While I chuckled at the above, I burst out laughing when reading the chapter, 'Enos Fruit Salts'. I don’t want to be a spoiler; you need to read the book to get this story. I could see the end coming but still burst out laughing when 'it happened'. I tried to stifle the outburst, but was unable to – I was reading far into the night and my wife had already been asleep for some time.
I never read fiction, and Judy’s book reminds me why. The truth is far, far better!This is a great book and I eagerly await the next two volumes of the trilogy. Please let’s have them as soon as possible, Judy!"