Aminatta Forna has given us a novel that belies its modest premise, a book about how the human mind protects itself by not knowing, yet sometimes, due to unexpected circumstances, comes to terms with what it thought it could not.
We are left with a somewhat scattered narrative written in the third person with an omniscient narrator that moves from one inner life to another, sometimes to good effect, and sometimes leaving the reader stranded.
This novella is a gift to all of us who love Patrick White’s strangely alive prose and a welcome addition to his oeuvre. And for those who don’t know his work, it is a terrific way to be introduced to one of the 20th century’s finest writers.
What is perhaps most astonishing is that families of every economic stripe, even those for whom it is a great sacrifice, are seeing to it that their children experience these pleasures, despite the sad fact that schools all over the country are cutting back on arts programs.
This fascinating book ends, leaving the reader with all sorts of questions — but that is exactly what really good fiction always does. Opening our minds, etching characters in our imaginations, and generating all sorts of possibilities.