So we can’t quite work out what the cover image has to do with this book by Hakan Lindquist (it’s bordering on homoerotic) but it may have something to do with the plot, which looks at the life of Paul, a 16 year old boy killed in a train accident, narrated through the eyes of his brother Jonas (who was unborn at the time but is now 18).
Well written and a interestingly light read, this book is a bit of a detective novel that reveals twists and clues for Jonas to unravel, all on a journey of discovery about his brothers life; Paul’s private thoughts and feelings discovered in a hidden diary, the revelation that Paul had a male lover (confirmed through ongoing interrogation of the boys uncle), yet a life totally unknown by his parents with whom Paul seemed so close (let’s not forget he was only 16). These discoveries all lead to the fatal day and whilst they raise questions around the train ‘accident’, the reader is left with no concise ending, the writer allows the reader to conclude the story on their own terms (it definitely left us with a few niggling questions).
Originally published in Swedish and translated to English, the novel felt very Americanised, apart from a few random words here and there that made you realise this was not taking place in America. A pleasant coming of age story that also examines the bond of brotherhood and family (made more interesting as both brothers did not grow up together yet we are exposed to how one brother feels living in the shadows of the other). Well written with many layers, don’t be surprised if you find it a little hard to put down once you get into it. But like most good things, it finishes too quickly and leaves you wanting more – is there room for a sequel, maybe looking more at Jonas and his new found knowledge?