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I’m alone in the office of Bateman’s Eternal Light Funeral Services. It’s early Monday morning and Mr Bateman is busy with a new shipment of coffins.
‘I’ll get to you as soon as I can,’ he told me. ‘Meanwhile, you can go into my office and look at my fish. They’re in an aquarium on the far wall. If you get bored, there’re magazines on the coffee table. By the way, I’m sorry about your sister.’ I don’t want to look at Mr Bateman’s fish. And I certainly don’t want to read. I just want to get this meeting over with before I cry and make a fool of myself.
Mr Bateman’s office is huge. It’s also dark. The blinds are closed and half the fluorescent lights are burned out.

About the book

Like any girl, 16-year-old Chanda Kabelo keeps secrets.

She is determined to be loyal to her rebellious friend Esther. She wishes she didn’t have to spend so much time listening to her Mama chat with their nosy neighbour Mrs Tafa.

But one secret threatens to silence everything. All around her people are dying and everyone is afraid to say why. But Chanda knows – it’s because of AIDS.

Life, Above All is the tense and deeply moving story of one girl’s struggle to rescue those she loves from a tragedy that is destroying her world.

First published in the UK under the title Chanda's Secrets.

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Author notes

'I wrote Chanda's Secrets [Life, Above All] to put a human face to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. When I'm writing about Chanda's love for her mom, I’m really writing about my love for my own.'


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UK, Eire and South Africa Rights only