Hey, it's Heather here! This is a book review on something quite different for me.
Author: Paul Pen (translated by Simon Bruni)
Published: April 2016
My rating: ★★★
The title and cover may fool you with the whole sweet little light bug façade; in reality it contains an abusive father, references to rape, incest and a bit of manslaughter. I’m going to avoid spoiling this book, but let me warn you that it is much darker than the adorable front cover insinuates. I honestly did not expect to find myself immersed in a story about a little boy who grows up in a basement with a family of distorted faces and a sister who is consistently nagged to cover her face because it’s disturbing to the eye. However, I bought this book on my kindle less than 24 hours ago and could not stop reading.
The psychological side of me found this book fascinating; deciphering what was truth in a basement of lies was frustrating yet also addictive. Most parents feed their kids a few white lies to make their childhood enchanting, like the tooth fairy and the bogeyman. Those as gullible as I will be made to listen to their brother boosting about how they tricked you into believing clouds of dust were weenie robots that ate people’s brains. The protagonist in this book is approaching the age when making them believe fictional things sours into lying to them, and when they realise they have been lied to, they retort in doubt. Like in many a Shakespeare play, doubt is the seed of a plant that fruits terrible feelings like jealousy, anger, resentment and betrayal. Indeed, it is a remarkable book with a very clever plot dictated through the thoughts of a child. None of the characters are named, they are all just known by their familial role, which makes it somewhat easier to follow. There was one line in particular that made me place my kindle down and look up at my bumpy ceiling in thought; “A door loses its meaning if you don’t ever go through it. It becomes a wall.” I don’t really know why this line interested me so much; I suppose the whole line relates to life in a way I had never considered. People always whine about their job or partner or even the weather, but there has always been that ‘door’; they are not forced to work, they could break up with that person, they could move countries. The effort of leaving everything else behind is what makes us remain, the fact that there are so many positives despite all the things we nag about.
Aspects of the novel I swelled with anger at. I will not spoil the plot, but throughout the book the father acts unkindly, yet does anyone properly stand up against him? No. If someone purposely inflicted violence against a member of my family, I would be livid, but this was treated as normal in the story.
I don’t know how to approach the recommendations for it. If I was another person, I would laugh at the thought of myself reading it – I am literally writing this review whilst sitting next to a bookcase that contains ‘Lost in the Snow’, an emotional story about a kitten named Fluff that goes missing around Christmas time. I avoid horror and ‘dark material’ (aside from Phillip Pullman’s dark material, those books are brilliant), reading this type of fiction is definitely worse than watching it because you have to conjure up the images described in your head, and when you have formed a mental image it can be difficult to take it away. Anyone under the age of fourteen I would advise not to read it, but if you don’t mind some disturbing moments, give it a read and let me know what you think.