In this article we take a look at Sian Bezuidenhout’s latest book “The Boy Who Speaks To Trees”.
Tell us a bit about your background
I was born in Durban, South Africa in 1964, to an Indian family in the heyday of the apartheid regime. I grew up with institutionalized racism oozing out of every pore of the social fabric of life. This impacted where and how we lived, our life opportunities and how others perceived us. In short, the deck was stacked against us right from the start.
As a little girl, my father would take me into the city centre every weekend and being young, I would beg him to let me sit down on the benches on the side of the street. But these were ‘Whites Only’ benches, and he would shake his head, saying that it was not possible. I never understood it. It felt mean and cruel. Growing up, I saw too much of poverty, strife and discord.
After studying English Literature, Psychology and Drama, I joined the exodus of South Africans heading for a better life in London, leaving behind my immediate family and close knit community, which broke my heart. In the UK, I continued to study Psychology and became a teacher, working my way up to the role of Head of Special Educational Needs departments in multiple schools. Currently, I am doing an MA at Goldsmiths University in Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies. This is my second novel.
What inspired you to write the book?
I am an English teacher, I used to be Head of Special Needs. I have taught many many students in different schools in the UK . Along my journey, I have been shocked by how many kids do not read . This is not because they don’t have access to books as every school has awesome books in the library to suit different tastes /abilities. I grew up poor, and burying my head in a book saved me from boredom. It also helped me to become extremely literate. So, I asked kids from year 7 up to year 11, why they did not like reading books. The common answer was that there was nothing out there that was interesting to them. Books, they believed, did not speak to their experiences, their lives. So, I wrote this book . It’s set in multicultural London and centres around a character that we would not expect, an Autistic boy with a deprived background. He grows up on a council estate and has tried to manage his Autism with the help of many excellent professionals. What saves/ comforts him , is trees. He reads about trees, hugs trees, visits forests and speaks to trees. Trees do not bully him, like the other kids, they do not judge him. They provide him with clean, oxygenated air which helps him to heal. So this book is a healing book, that celebrates the power of Nature.
What’s your favourite quote ?
I am a tree ambassador. A landscape looney aka lunatic. I have always been drawn to trees. These statuesque, majestic creatures magically transform every landscape. They work so hard for us giving us their souls in the process.
Who are you hoping to reach with your message?
I’m hoping to inspire young people to delve into our woodlands, parks and forests for support, comfort and joy. It’s free to visit these places , just to breathe the fresh air, to reflect, to be mindful, to soak up the positive energy. And trees are healing. The Japanese art of ‘forest bathing ‘ is showcased in the book, it’s called ‘Shinrin Yoku.’ I’m also challenging young people’s definitions of students with Special Educational Needs , and highlighting the ongoing and cruel issue of bullying .
I hope that they will find it a magical and uplifting book!
Where can we find your book ?
This “guest article” is NOT a paid advertisement. If you can also introduce your cause, book, project, website or product related to trees, forests and environmental protection in general, to our online community by writing a guest article for the ad-free website moretreeslessassholes.org. Contact me on Facebook for more information.