Book Review: Jumping Over the Rainbow

Words: Uncle P

Jumping Over the Rainbow is the memoir of Ronnie van der Merwe who details his time spent as an Au Pair in Germany. The Johannesburg based nurse expounds on his life’s journey, lessons learnt and comingout of the clost.

The one thing that makes this book stand out for me is the innocence and the authenticity with which it is written. “A rainbow is synonymous with bravery, brightness, brilliance and vibrancy. In the Bible it is a symbol of God’s faithfulness and mercy. Everybody has a story and in this short memoir I tell mine”, says van der Merwe.

Ronnie wants readers who feel that you are different and do not belong to know that you are not alone. You should see that it is okay to be yourself and be comfortable in your skin. Freedom is great but the path to it can sometimes be rocky, narrow and uphill. At times the journey gets windy, wet and lonely. As shown in his memoir, this road can be strewn with both flower petals and thorns. His trip to Europe led to his personal freedom, but it was not always easy. In his memoir he shares the good and the bad moments and wants the readers of his book to see that life is beautiful and precious and should be lived to the fullest. Nothing and nobody should keep you from being your authentic self!

Jumping Over the Rainbow is about finding and accepting yourself. In the end it shows the beauty of loving yourself and realising that we are all God’s children.

The fact that it is written by a queer POC does add an element of curiosity to it because queers like any other person are creative and adventures and can make something big and extra-ordinary out something ordinary – with so many authors and writers nowadays it is not so easy to find a book like Jumping Over the Rainbow that does exactly that.

Yes, it is a very thin, very light read, in fact it almost falls short of being a novel but a pocket-book, so I call it a pocket-novel, all the same it is a very good read. Perhaps what makes it so short is that the author focuses on one aspect of his life.

Jumping Over the Rainbow is about the author’s journey of discovery and finding freedom within and with himself.

He left university, followed his heart and went on his first overseas trip to be an au pair in Germany. It would have been interesting if he had gone on this trip to continue his studies abroad – but there is a hint in the book as to why this might not have been a good idea.

The book centres around his relationship with his host family: mom, dad and their two young boys. He makes friends along the way and gets some time for travel, adventure and exploration which eventually leads to him breaking free and coming out of the closet. This is a short story of courage and being true to yourself.

Ronnie is now an openly gay man, working as a nurse and a freelance writer on community and health issues. I enjoyed reading this pocket-novel and I look forward to a more detailed piece.

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