To and Fro

Anton Clifford-Motopi

To and Fro
Allen & Unwin
19 March 2024

To and Fro

Anton Clifford-Motopi

Most kids meet their parents when they're born. All they need to do to impress them is poop, sleep and make goo-goo ga-ga sounds. But I'm twelve. None of that is going to impress my father.

Sam thinks he's a weird-looking white kid with an afro. He lives with his white mum (annoying but not smelly) and brown dog Trevor (smelly but not annoying). He's never met his father. He just knows that his father is black.

But a surprise visit has Sam questioning who he really is. Is he a white kid with a black dad? Or a black kid with white skin? Or half-black and half-white?

Not only does Sam want to know these answers,he has to know them to finish his annoying homework and perform in theschool concert.But how can he make his outside match hisinside if he doesn't know who he is?

A delightfully funny story about family and identity, and what it means to be truly Sam.


For as long as Sam can remember, it’s just been him, his mum, and his dog Trevor – and Sam is ok with that. He’s fine being the weird White kid with hair that makes him look taller than he is. Then his mum brings his dad back into his life. Lebone, his dad, is a complete stranger to Sam, and though he has always known his dad was Black, meeting him for the first time has unlocked some very complicated feelings. Is he a White kid with a Black dad, a Black kid with a White mum, or both? Or something else? And how can he be seen as anything other than White when he has white skin?

These events all coincide with a ‘Who Am I and Where Do I Come From?’ assignment and school concert, which means Sam feels a deadline to decide and declare who he is. And with his dad back in South Africa, and therefore not able to guide him, his nanna still coming to terms with having a Black man in her family, and his teacher being the kind of person who gets visibly excited about his First Nations classmate ‘showing off her culture’, Sam is struggling.

To and Fro is full of very real family relationships. Sam is a 12-year-old boy: he’s at that stage in his life when everything is embarrassing, especially his mum, and on occasion even his own body lets him down with its timing. There’s a lot of humour in this novel, which helps to balance out the more serious inner turmoil, and some of the harder lessons that Sam learns as he clumsily tries to find ways to express who he is. To and Fro is a great book for readers 10+ who like stories grounded in reality and a good laugh.

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