It’s rare for books to leave echo’s in my head after finishing reading them. This one did though. For a number of days.
The book’s setting is a small village in rural Flanders (Belgium). The plot narrates from the perspective of a woman growing up there. Only three kids were born in the village in her year of birth, the woman and two boys. They formed a class of three and bonded due to lack of others. The woman looks back on the events during one summer while returning to the village years later to visit a birthday reunion for a lost brother of one of her friends.
I read a reader review of the English translation of this book and the title of that review was ‘Just another coming of age story.’ It’s not. It’s about parental neglect. It’s about siblings dealing with that reality in their own pre-adulthood way. It’s about loneliness. It’s about adolescent play that unexpectedly can turn into something far beyond play. It’s about the long term consequences of living through all those things combined.
It took me a while to finish this book (480 pages). The first half seemed to drag on forever, especially since I had to read it in small instalments. The lonely quarantine evening hours on the couch while both Daughter and Man were already in bed gave me the opportunity to finish the second half more quickly. I can now conclude that everything written does have a point to make at the very end of the book. Just keep on reading when you think you want to quit. My advise: read this book when you have plenty uninterrupted time to immerse yourself in it.