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we ve lost our way and there s no one to ask for directions It s become a reviewer s clich to describe a book as dark , but wow, this one deserves the epithet It s grim and gritty, grubby in places, awash with nauseating images and acts and yet still amounts to a wonderfully clear eyed and compelling picture of a family dislocated and destroyed not just by grief, but by a failure to acknowledge and articulate it It s been a while since I read a contemporary piece of lit fic which is bwe ve lost our way and there s no one to ask for directions It s become a reviewer s clich to describe a book as dark , but wow, this one deserves the epithet It s grim and gritty, grubby in places, awash with nauseating images and acts and yet still amounts to a wonderfully clear eyed and compelling picture of a family dislocated and destroyed not just by grief, but by a failure to acknowledge and articulate it It s been a while since I read a contemporary piece of lit fic which is built so securely on a sub structure of figurative language and imagery that also becomes visceral and material Jas, our child narrator, is not just filled with grief and anxiety but actualises it by becoming bloated physically by her refusal to let it out Navigating the difficult territory of adolescence while her family implodes before her eyes means that she confuses her natural curiosity about sex with the repressed violence that emerges from thwarted sadness and grief The child narrator is an established trope of the novel, filtering the world through a consciousness that is limited in its knowledge, around which we, as readers, peer to see a world they cannot yet fully comprehend, and Rijneveld pulls off this literary feat with aplomb Jas could so easily have been an adorably quirky character if her personality and wild imagination hadn t been diverted by guilt and anxiety Instead, this is a study of vulnerability, of a child trying so hard to hold onto and control her life, but adrift through inexperience, youth and almost abandonment by the adults who surround her but don t really see her.At various points this reminded me of other texts the early short stories of Ian McEwan, Merricat in We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Shirley jackson is a good comparison as another author who consistently finds the sinister in the quotidian The writing is deft and admirably controlled, and the translation natural and unobtrusive There are just two minor jarring moments when the translator uses the term broiled , an Americanism, when other inflections are English mum , willies , and when the author compares earthworms to strawberry shoelaces surely the manufacturers are careful that earthworms are the last thing sweet shoelaces look like Overall, though, this is a tour de force, and one which refuses to look away from the material realities of life whether the scatological or the ever presence of death or the actualities of farming Jas narrative voice is strong and characterful, just be aware that this book will take you to discomfiting places I can already imagine the ranty 1 star reviews onshould this win the International Booker Many thanks to Faber Faber for an ARC via NetGalley [[ Free Book ]] ⇴ De avond is ongemak ☋ De avond is ongemak van Marieke Lucas Rijneveld is het schrijnende verhaal van een gereformeerd boerengezin dat wordt getroffen door de dood van een kind Door de ogen van Jas, die zich ophoudt in het niemandsland tussen kindertijd en volwassenheid, zien we hoe de familieleden elk op hun eigen manier omgaan met het verlies Vader en moeder zijn volledig verlamd door verdriet en zien niet hoe Jas en haar zusje Hanna en haar broer Obbe ondertussen langzaam ontsporenHet is een verbluffend romandebuut dat is doortrokken van seksualiteit, geloof en de smerigheid van het bestaan Balancing the Load die zich ophoudt in het niemandsland tussen kindertijd en volwassenheid Most Likely To... zien we hoe de familieleden elk op hun eigen manier omgaan met het verlies Vader en moeder zijn volledig verlamd door verdriet en zien niet hoe Jas en haar zusje Hanna en haar broer Obbe ondertussen langzaam ontsporenHet is een verbluffend romandebuut dat is doortrokken van seksualiteit Blind (Lorelei Bluffs Book 3) geloof en de smerigheid van het bestaan Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020Even though we didn t live in the South Pole, it was cold here, so cold that the lake had frozen over and the cows drinking troughs were full of ice The scene is set that it s cold Very cold So cold that the lake near the family farm has frozen over, and is perfect for skating onI ll be back before dark , he called to Mum He turned around once again in the doorway and waved to me, the scene I d keep replaying in my mind until h Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020Even though we didn t live in the South Pole, it was cold here, so cold that the lake had frozen over and the cows drinking troughs were full of ice The scene is set that it s cold Very cold So cold that the lake near the family farm has frozen over, and is perfect for skating onI ll be back before dark , he called to Mum He turned around once again in the doorway and waved to me, the scene I d keep replaying in my mind until his arm no longer raised itself and I began to doubt whether we had even said goodbye Matthies is a strapping young lad Around twelve or so After breakfast, he goes ice skating with friends and never returns.This story is told by Matthies younger sister, Jas The bluntness with which she hears of her brother s death is simply cruel.Jas blames herself for her brother s fate With a child s na vete, she feels she may somehow be responsible With Christmas forthcoming, Jas is anxious that her pet rabbit not end up on her mother s special silver serving plate She is convinced that this event will take place Jas innocently asks that God take her brother instead, without truly intending anything by this wish It was simply a child s plea to the Universe to keep her beloved pet safe.This book is set in the rural Netherlands, in the early 2000s A deeply religious family, living and working on a dairy farm, there isn t much time given to expressions of emotion It s as if Matthies did not exist, and his death is not spoken of, let alone who he was in life.The exploration of grief in this story shows how the family is unable to acknowledge their loss properly, let alone comfort each other Everyone is left to their own devices, and the result is bleak and disturbing.Jas, her father and younger brother Obbe are putting together hales of bay for the cattle, when Jas mentions her brother Matthias, how he made this job look easy You can t help but feel sorry for her, with the reaction she receives from her father OuchWe don t think about the dead, we remember them We can remember out loud, can t we I ask.Dad gives me a penetrating look, jumps from the hay cart and sticks his pitchfork in the ground What did you say I see the muscles in his upper arms tense Nothing , I say Nothing what Nothing, Dad That s what I thought Life goes on, and feelings are suppressed and swept aside Except that they aren t really suppressed at all, but displayed in other ways Jas notices her Mum getting thinner, and her Dad returning to do chores on the farm after dinner which he had already completed The welts on her brother s forehead from where he hits his head against the bedpost at night, and his increasing appetite for the torture of animals The sexual games that Jas, Obbe and their younger sister begin to play.Jas emotional turmoil is displayed by her chronic constipation, her refusal to allow her body to function And her continued wearing of her red winter coat, which she s worn since Matthies death, despite it becoming increasingly putrid Her obsessive thoughts of sex and death the beginning and the end of the life cycleThe little stabs inside my belly get worse, as though holes are being pricked in the lining I keep discoveringandworries of my own and they keep me awake at night They seem to be growing To add insult to injury, foot and mouth disease finds its way to the family farm Resulting in the entire herd of cattle having to be destroyed Another blow to a family that has already suffered enough loss They are devastated by it Needless to say, I skipped that chapter entirely.This is not an easy book to read It is troubling I did not read the chapter where inspectors come onto the farm to destroy the cattle I did not read the pages where Obbe is deliberately cruel to animals There are entire pages that I skimmed over No doubt the animal cruelty and sexual experimentation between the children are symbolic of something or other But what It s just so.off Even living on a farm, where children areexposed to the facts of life, I d like to think the way these siblings act is a huge stretch of imagination I certainly hope so.I d started reading this books weeks ago I d put it down, read something else, come back to it I couldn t read it all the way through without a break Why continue with it I don t really know I guess I wanted to see if there was any glimmer of hope for Jas Just an inkling that there may be some light on the horizon for her Did she grow up to be a reasonably well adjusted adult Who can tell The discomfort part of the title is fitting Very apt Discomfort is what I felt reading this debut novel from Marieke Lucas Rijneveld.This book is psychologically haunting and incredibly disturbing It is claustrophobic Was it written for shock value I don t know Trigger warnings aboundGraphic over sexulisation of children, incest, animal abuse and cruelty Emotional distress I think most taboos have probably been covered in this book You have been warned.Shout out to Randwick City Library for having such a great selection of shortlisted titles to choose from Even late at night, on a whim which is when I downloaded this book it was interesting to see that so many of the shortlist were already out on loan Shortlisted to International Booker Prize 2020I tried to read this book multiple times but I failed It is one of the favourites to make the shortlist according to The Mookse and the Gripes group and that was my motivator to continue However, the book becameanddisgusting and depressing and I just could not handle it, especially during this Coronavirus pandemic Having two small kids at home does not help as my anxiety levels went through the roof thinking What if my toddlers will Shortlisted to International Booker Prize 2020I tried to read this book multiple times but I failed It is one of the favourites to make the shortlist according to The Mookse and the Gripes group and that was my motivator to continue However, the book becameanddisgusting and depressing and I just could not handle it, especially during this Coronavirus pandemic Having two small kids at home does not help as my anxiety levels went through the roof thinking What if my toddlers will start to behave like this when they are older The book contains animal cruelty, exploration of their sexuality by the children and other stuff that I am not willing to read Death announces itself in most cases, but we re often the ones who don t want to see or hear it We knew that the ice was too weak in some places, and we knew the foot and mouth wouldn t skip our village.Book 6 13 for me from the International Booker longlist De avond is ongemak was a bestselling debut novel by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, published when they were 26, and has been translated from the Dutch as The Discomfort of Evening by Michele Hutchison.The novel is begins just before Christmas 2 Death announces itself in most cases, but we re often the ones who don t want to see or hear it We knew that the ice was too weak in some places, and we knew the foot and mouth wouldn t skip our village.Book 6 13 for me from the International Booker longlist De avond is ongemak was a bestselling debut novel by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, published when they were 26, and has been translated from the Dutch as The Discomfort of Evening by Michele Hutchison.The novel is begins just before Christmas 2000 and is narrated by Jas who begins the novel I was ten and stopped taking off my coat That morning, Mum had covered us one by one in udder ointment to protect us from the cold.She lives with her parents, her older brothers Matthies and Obbe and her younger sister Hanna on the family diary farm No one stood a chance against the cows anyway they were alwaysimportant.She is worried her father is fattening up her pet rabbit Dieuwertje I d named him after the curly haired female presenter on children s TV because I found her so pretty that being Dieuwertje Blok, who rather marvellously, narrated the Dutch audiobook.And Matthies isgoing on ahead to the lake where he was going to take part in the local skating competition with a couple of his friends It was a twenty mile route, and the winner got a plate of stewed udders with mustard and a gold medal with the year 2000 on it, but when she asks to come with him he refuses and thenquietly so that only I could hear it, Because we re going to the other side I want to go to the other side, too, I whispered I ll take you with me when you re older As he leaves Jas ponders I thought about being too small for so much, but that no one told you when you were big enough, how many centimetres on the door post that was, and I asked God if He please couldn t take my brother Matthies instead of my rabbit Amen Matthies is indeed taken the local vet comes to break the news that, skating where he shouldn t, Matthies fell through the ice and drowned, and the family is devastated Her parents retreat into silence, Jas can t quite comprehend his death The cancelling of the family festivities and taking down of the Christmas tree strikes herthan the news It was only then that I felt a stab in my chest,than at the vet s news Matthies was sure to return but the Christmas tree wouldn t And her denial includes refusing to take off her coat, which she wears continuously for months, and self imposed severe constipation I could hold in my poo I wouldn t have to lose anything I wanted to keep from now on.These events have echoes of the authors own life, except they were only three when their brother died in a car accident Mijn eigen broer Arjen was twaalf toen hij verongelukte Ik was net drie en ik begreep niet hoe hij ineens zomaar weg was Alles werd meteen anders Er werd amper over zijn dood gepraat en mijn ouders haalden onmiddellijk de kerstboom weg Kinderen snappen dat niet zodra je zo n boom verwijdert, wordt het n g nadrukkelijker dat er iets ergs aan de hand is.My own brother Arjen was twelve when he died in an accident I was just three years old and I didn t understand how he suddenly disappeared Everything immediately changed There was hardly any mention of his death and my parents immediately removed the Christmas tree Children don t understand that as soon as you remove such a tree, it becomes evenemphatic that something bad is going on From Google translation Marieke Lucas Rijneveld was previously known as a poet, and has explained in interviews how, in their view, the move to prose required them to both master dialogue, but also introducescatological elements Maar in een roman moet er af en toe ook gewoon iemand even gaan poepen of een boterham met kaas eten But in a novel, now and then someone just has to poop or eat a cheese sandwich , and cites as her inspiration the novelist Jan Wolkers, who is also quoted in the epigraph Hij schreef wat hij wilde schrijven, over seks, het geloof, over alles He wrote what he wanted to write about sex, faith, about everything Faith plays a key role Jas s parents, as the authors own, are members of the Reformed Church Her own relationship with God is complicated, but her language, and that of the novel, is inflected with scripture I ve got so many words but it s as if fewer and fewer come out of me, while the biblical vocabulary in my head is pretty much bursting at the seams Jas s upbringing is strict The television is hidden away in a cabinet as something shameful and even when watched the content is controlled, and ideally confined to the wholesome Dieuwertje Blok We didn t have any of the commercial channels, only Nederland 1, 2 and 3 Dad said there wasn t any nudity on them He pronounced the word nudity as though a fruit fly had just flown into his mouth he spat as he said it.Popular music is generally frowned upon, although an exception is made for Boudewijn de Groot, even her mother unable to avoid joining in with Land van Maas en Waal And the death of their son only causes her parents to retreat further everything that requires secrecy here is accepted in silence, leaving the children to learn the facts of life themselves and to experiment with violence and sexual feelings, and the imaginative Jas to fantasise about the mysterious other side of the lake and bizarrely that her mother has hidden some refugees from Hitler whose birthday Jas shares in the cellar Anything can happen, I think then, but nothing can be prevented The plan about death and a rescuer, Mum and Dad who don t lie on top of each other any , Obbe who is growing out of his clothes faster than Mum can learn the washing labels off by heart, and the way not just his body is growing but also his cruelty the ticking insects in my belly which make me rock on top of my teddy bear and get out of bed exhausted, or why we don t have crunchy peanut butter any , why the sweets tin has grown a mouth with Mum s voice in it that says, Are you sure you want to do that or why Dad s arm has become like a traffic barrier it descends on you whether you wait your turn or not or the Jewish people in the basement that no one talks about, just like Matthies Are they still alive And as the novel progresses into 2001, further tragedy strikes, as foot and mouth disease spreads from the UK to the Netherlands The quote that opens by review feels particularly chilling read in February 2020 as Covid 19 spreads around the world.Highly recommended and a contender to win the overall prize Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for the ARC.An English language interview with the author Shortlisted for the Booker International Prize 2020Another book that it is difficult to enjoy and even harder to assess for me too much of the brutality seems a little gratuitous, but it is undoubtedly striking and will probably be memorable.The narrator of the book is Jas, and at the start of the book she is ten years old, the third of four children living on a Dutch dairy farm The story describes her mental disintegration as her family is scarred by the death of her elder brother Matthies a Shortlisted for the Booker International Prize 2020Another book that it is difficult to enjoy and even harder to assess for me too much of the brutality seems a little gratuitous, but it is undoubtedly striking and will probably be memorable.The narrator of the book is Jas, and at the start of the book she is ten years old, the third of four children living on a Dutch dairy farm The story describes her mental disintegration as her family is scarred by the death of her elder brother Matthies and later the foot and mouth outbreak which loses them all of their cattle The games she and her brother Obbe devise spill over into animal cruelty and sexual abuse, and in some ways it almost seems like an exercise in breaking as many taboos as possible This is an extremely odd book It s graphic but at the same time sort of detached What really struck me was how it felt so old fashioned but on the other hand computers other signs of modernity is mentioned The best thing about it for me was the insight into the way the narrator thinks and the childish ways she tries to make sense of her family life. I nod and think about the teacher who said I d go far with my empathy and boundless imagination, but in time I d have to find words for it because otherwise everything and everybody stays inside you And one day, just like the black stockings which my classmates sometimes tease me about wearing because we re Reformists even though I never wear black stockings I will crumple in on myself until I can only see darkness, eternal darkness Having been chosen with a group of other Goodreads fri I nod and think about the teacher who said I d go far with my empathy and boundless imagination, but in time I d have to find words for it because otherwise everything and everybody stays inside you And one day, just like the black stockings which my classmates sometimes tease me about wearing because we re Reformists even though I never wear black stockings I will crumple in on myself until I can only see darkness, eternal darkness Having been chosen with a group of other Goodreads friends to read Tyll as part of the Reading Agency s shadowing of the 2020 International Booker Prize, I decided to read the rest of the shortlist something I had previously decided not to do and instead concentrate my reading time severely hampered by COVID 19 on the Women s Prize longlist.I had some concerns about this book before I began given one of the same friends had abandoned it another marked it as difficult to enjoy gratuitous an exercise in breaking as many taboo s as possible Barry Pierce in the Irish Times describing it as part of a trend of novels that focus on grotesque characters written almost grotesquely , a genre he describes as abject fiction with as its ur text Eileen Mosfegh s Eileen possibly in view the most execrable book ever to be longlisted for the Booker albeit as much due to the ridiculous plot as the scatological writing It is a genre which I seem to strongly dislike and avoid on Philippians 4 8 grounds although genetically I seem pre disposed towards it my clone being a particular fan of Patti Yumi Cottrell, a persistent practitioner and of this book.The story of this autobiographically influenced book is simple Jas, is a 10 year old girl, living with her two brothers, sister and strict Dutch Reformed parents on a dairy farm in late 2000 through to 2001 The book opens immediately with tragedy her brother Matthies drowns after falling through the ice in a long distance skating race the author s own brother dying when the author was 3 and the book examines the fall out of this tragic event on the family, functioning as an examination of dysfunctional grief.Jas blames herself for the death having struck a bargain with God to save her pet rabbit which she was convinced was being fattened up ready for Christmas Her mother reverts to a form of eating disorder repeatedly cutting out elements of her diet in a form of self purging fasting Her father sinks even further than ever into anger and silence, something provoked still further by the destruction of his dairy herd after Foot and Mouth sweeps from the UK across Holland And the children descend into experimenting with a mix of self harm, animal abuse and sexual exploration.The imagery in the book is strong Jas drawing strongly on his farm experience to try and normally fail to make sense of the world around him.The sight of his brother s dead body isMatthies s face was as pale as fennelAs he struggles with his inner demonsThere weren t any words to take the edge off fear, the way the blades of the combine decapitated the rapeseed plants to keep only the bit you can useOr as he makes sense of how his non communicative parents could have got together, while also ruminating an excellent choice of words by me on what he understands of sex via what he sees on the farm It s still a mystery how our parents found each other The thing is, Dad s hopeless at looking When he s lost something it s usually in his pocket, and when he goes to do the shopping he always comes back with something different than what was on the list Mum s the wrong kind of yoghurt, but one he was happy enough with and vice versa They ve never told us about how they met Mum never thinks it a good time There are rarely any good times here, and if we have them we only realize afterwards My suspicion is that it was exactly like with the cows, that one day Granny and Grandpa opened my mum s bedroom door and put Dad in with her like a bull After that they shut the door and hey presto there we were From that day on, Dad called her wife and Mum called him husband On good days little man and little woman , which I found strange, as though they were worried they d forget each other s sex, or that they belonged to each other But these excerpts are some of the few highlights Increasingly though she draws heavily on the dark side of what sees around him in nature and in farming her language increasingly filled with imagery of decay, blight, excrement, the mould on the left over bakery items his father buys, rotting vegetables When we arrived at the mangels, some of them were rotten The mushy white pulp that looked like pus stuck to my fingers when I picked them up And to be honest, as so often with this genre, the sheer repetitiveness of the gross imagery turns what could be shocking into something increasingly tedious The writers in this genre have never subscribed to the less istheory of writing.The writing becomes very predictable and easy to satire early in my reading of the book I posted on a discussion forum The book is growing on me like the mould on the rancid dead hamster festering in my brother s bed, mould that reminds me of the patches my mother scrapes off our buns in turn uncovering the currants that remind me of sores on the pestilential back of our sow As my father quotes from Leviticus a persistent defiling mould the novel is uncleanOnly to find to my amusement that a decaying hamster and currants in this case like drowning beetles featured later in the book.The other part of my spoof quote was Biblical, Jas has been thoroughly immersed in the Bible and as any discussion in his family dries up, it s the language of the Bible that he repeatedly reaches to I ve got so many words but it s as if fewer and fewer come out of me, while the biblical vocabulary in my head is pretty much bursting at the seams I found this a muchsuccessful piece of writing by the author themselves with a strong religious background the high point being this excellent analogy Suddenly I realize what s going on Everything from the recent past falls into place, all the times we were fragile, and I say, This is another of the plagues from Exodus, it must be Only they re coming to us in the wrong order Do you understand What do you mean Well, you had a nosebleed which meant water changed into blood We ve had the toad migration, head lice at school, the death of the firstborn, horseflies around the muck heap, a grasshopper squashed by Obbe s boot, ulcers on my tongue from the fried egg, and hailstorms And you think that s why there s a cattle plague now Hanna asks with a shocked expression She s laid her hand on her heart, exactly above the Barbie s ears, as though she s not allowed to hear what we re discussing I nod slowly After this, there s oneto come, I think to myself, and that s the worst one darkness, total darkness, daytime eternally clad in Dad s Sunday overcoat Unfortunately, the book then descends further into gratuitousness and repetitiveness but this time its in the narrative action rather than the analogies The as described earlier self harm, animal abuse and sexual exploration is described in rather sickening detail in a manner which I felt added little to the book and subtracted much from any ability to appreciate it The practitioners of this genre also do not subscribe to the show not tell theory of writing.When they do, I think the book isconvincing noso than in the powerful ending.There are a few other areas of the book which I find less convincing.The first is fidelity to the set up a book set in 2000 01 has a narrator whose brother listens to an album from 2003 and how herself anticipates the 2006 demotion of Pluto as a planet, while also seeming to change age from 10 to 12 in only a few months skipping 11 altogether.More generally I did not find the age of the narrator convincing Most attempts at writing children seem to me to over estimate the maturity of the children this book seems the opposite Jas I find readslike an 8 year old than 10 12 year old, for example when at least 12 I d nervously shaken my head once Mum was behind the glass of the TV set, we d never get her back, or maybe only in pixels when the screen was snowy, and what would become of Dad thenBut maybe this is simply a narrator on the cusp of adolescence and caught between adult experimentation and childlike fears and lacking supportive and loving parents to allow her to navigate this transition against a background of grieving.The most touching part of the book speaks to this Promise me this will stay between us, dear toads, but sometimes I wish I had different parents Do you understand that I continue Parents like Belle s who are as soft as shortbread just out of the oven and give her lots of cuddles when she s sad, frightened or even very happy Parents that chase away all the ghosts from under your bed, from inside your head, and run through a summary of the week with you every weekend like Dieuwertje Blok does on TV, so you don t forget everything you achieved that week, all the things you tripped up on before scrabbling to your feet again Parents that see you when you re talking to them even though I find it terrifying to look people in the eye, as though other people s eyeballs are two lovely marbles you can continuously win or lose Belle s parents go on exotic holidays and make tea for her when she comes home from school They ve got hundreds of different sorts including aniseed and fennel, my favourite tea Sometimes they drink it sitting on the floor because that scomfortable than sitting in a chair And they horse around with each other without it turning into fighting And they say sorry as often as they re nasty to each other While most of the imagery is drawn from the bible or the farm around her, I was not sure if this quote was a failure of writing unpleasant imagery drawn from outside those two areas or bad translation of locusts When Mum and Dad rescued the beans they had just frozen, they lay wet and floppy on the kitchen table The little green bodies looked dismal, like an exterminated plague of bush crickets One thing that is interesting about this year s International Booker Prize shortlist is that unlike some years where my impression is books are picked which were relatively obscure even in their homeland they have picked a number of books which were very popular in their original language this book for example translated by Michele Hutchinson selling 50,000 copies despite its incredibly challenging style.I wonder how many of the 50,000 copies were actually quietly put away well before being finished this is a book which despite its merits I would find impossible to recommend If you read it you may also quietly decide to abandon part way through Lots of people want to run away, but the ones who really do rarely announce it beforehand they just go. Read my full review of this on the Irish Times Read my full review of this on the Irish Times I wanted to say thank you to faberbooks for bringing this book into my life but I m not sure that s the right term thank you for gifting me one of the most disturbing, discomfiting books I ve ever read The Discomfort of Evening is relatively simple in terms of plot A family of six becomes five after a tragic skating accident claims the oldest son One of the daughters, Jas, blames herself for his death after a perverse bargain she made with God the morning of his death And thus ensues the I wanted to say thank you to faberbooks for bringing this book into my life but I m not sure that s the right term thank you for gifting me one of the most disturbing, discomfiting books I ve ever read The Discomfort of Evening is relatively simple in terms of plot A family of six becomes five after a tragic skating accident claims the oldest son One of the daughters, Jas, blames herself for his death after a perverse bargain she made with God the morning of his death And thus ensues the collapse of the family.Rijneveld explores what might happen when parents are too consumed with grief to properly care for their children The loss of Matthies pervades the entire novel, as Rijneveld examines how it affects each family member through the eyes of Jas The first person narrative means there is no escaping Jas s often extremely uncomfortable and unsettling perspective as she seeks refuge in dark fantasies It is excruciatingly intimate, as Jas is going through all the usual shit a 12 year old goes through but with no adults in her life she could confide in safely or receive a rational answer from in a Reformed household twisted by grief and pain.If you re squeamish then I wouldn t recommend this book, as Rijneveld doesn t hold back on the descriptions of all manner of bodily excretions This book pushes boundaries, as Jas tests those around her, left to her own devices on a farm with her remaining brother and sister I got vibes from all sorts of different books some I haven t read but have heard about , including Flowers in the Attic, The Cement Garden and The Wasp Factory.It s masterfully translated by Michele Hutchison I didn t notice anything that didn t flow, but even when there was the occasional awkward phrase poo hole, for example , I put that down to a deliberate choice on her part to convey Jas naivety..I ll leave you with this quote Even though it will feel uncomfortable for a while, but according to the pastor, discomfort is good In discomfort we are realAnd for you to decide whether this book is for you It s out in March