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More Reviews for Trainsurfer

So rarely do I read a children’s/MG/YA book that captures my heart and my brain, that I’d almost forgotten what it is like. Author friends, please don’t take offense, because Trainsurfer is a very different book, a recent history exposé of a time many of us would love to forget—a story of racial prejudices, hatred, poverty, and injustice. I would like to make every child read this book, but for now just let me tell you a bit about it.
            Set in South Africa during Apartheid, Trainsurfer tells the heartbreaking story of Jabu, an African youth who suddenly becomes an orphan. As Jabu’s life unfolds, he discovers worlds he never knew existed—the world of street children, the world of the wealthy white residents, and his aunt’s world, one rooted in poverty with no idea of escape. As you read, you’ll feel and endure Jabu’s hunger and despair.
            Yet, like all really good books and the real world, good things and good people do exist. Jabu finds these things and learns to surf, to live, to learn, to love, and to seek a better place for himself and his friends. Trainsurfer is a tale of redemption and friendship. I won’t spoil it by telling you more. Read it for yourself. Read it to your children. You won’t soon forget Jabu and all his friends.  (Oh, a lovely glossary of South African terms can be found at the end of the book. Use it as you read for a better understanding of the story.)

"A very good book. Extremely 'hooking'. Interesting, exciting, thrilling. I couldn't put it down." Caleb, aged 12, Wanaka, New Zealand

“I couldn't put it down. My heart broke for Jabu and rejoiced as he overcame difficulties. The story is filled with kindness and shows that all it takes is a small group to show kindness and it spreads. I am hoping we find out more about Jabu and his friends in follow up books.” Angie Callaghan, USA Grade 4 Teacher

“The book was really cool and should have a sequel. I liked how Jabu looked after all the homeless people. It was a bit of a page-turner and there were no boring bits. Overall I would give it a 9 out of 10 and I found it really fun to read. Thank you for letting me read the book, I really liked it." Josh, year 9, Titirangi.

“I read Trainsurfer while on holiday... I expected to enjoy it as my son had raved about it .. I wasn’t disappointed, it’s a great read, not just for kids!


While it broaches topics that kid’s books usually avoid, like homelessness, racism, and drug use, it does so in a way totally appropriate to young readers without dumbing down these issues. 


This book is a real gem, I thoroughly enjoyed it and did not want it to end!! I hope you’re planning a sequel Kate!” - Rachael, Wanaka, New Zealand

“It's a compelling and hopeful South African story, centred around two youths from very different walks of life; a courageous boy named Jabu, and a surfer girl called Billie. Trainsurfer is a well written, easy read with riveting action scenes, engaging dialogue and heart-touching moments- set in a 'charged', apartheid-era South Africa.” Paul Hemming, South Africa

“Kate, I found your book inspiring and uplifting. Gutwrenching too, the way apartheid ruled back then in our beloved country will always remain inexplicably cruel to me. Hoping for a sequel as the sudden end left me wanting more!” Glyn Macaskill, USA

I ordered this book today for my Kindle and started reading as soon as it was downloaded. I finished it in one afternoon, as I just had to know how the story unfolded. It is not a long book and reads very easily.


It is a wonderful story of South Africa pre- and post-apartheid and how it affected people in those days. Will have great appeal to young people especially, and those interested in the surfing life, as well as any S. Africans who grew up during those times and anyone interested in knowing what it was like to be young in South Africa during those days when crossing the colour line, meant breaking the law. Also shows the differences between white privilege and those not so fortunate, and how someone deciding to do the right thing can make such a big difference, not only to those they are helping but to themselves as well. 
Congratulations Kate Richards on a great first book. May there be many more! Libby Vosper

I am a huge fan of yours and loved reading your inspiring book.  One of my favourite books is the book that I proof read for you and I can’t believe it is already published! I think that the book was incredible and made me want to read more! I found that you write very enthusiastically and I just couldn’t help but to keep on reading even when my mother said to put the book down! I love how your characters seem to come alive, and you create the personalities of the characters so easily! Being brought up in South Africa myself, I think that I can relate to some of the experiences in the book and I loved all of the detail in all the different aspects of the book. Mia, South Africa.

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