Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Review: The First True Lie by Marina Mander

Title: The First True Lie
Author: Marina Mander
Format: ARC
Publisher: Hogarth
Publish Date: January 21, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like your books off the beaten path.
 What's the Story?:

From "Meet Luca, a curious young boy living with his mother, a taciturn woman who "every now and then tries out a new father." Luca keeps to himself, his cat, Blue, and his words--his favorite toys. One February morning his mom doesn't wake up to bring him to school, so Luca--with a father who's long gone and driven by a deep fear of being an orphan ("part of you is missing and people only see the part that isn't there")--decides to pretend to the world that his mom is still alive. Luca has a worldly comprehension of humanity, and grapples with his gruesome situation as the stench of the rotting body begins to permeate his home.

But this remarkable narrative is not insufferably morbid. Luca also pretends that Blue is his personal assistant and that they're on an expedition in outer space together; he goes for observant trips to the store, where he uses the contents of a basket to astutely assess the person who's filled it; he fantasizes about marrying his school crush, Antonella (whose freckles on her nose are described as being a pinch of cinnamon on whipped cream.)

Ultimately, we are witness to something much more poignant that needs no translation: the journey of a young boy deciding--in a more devastating manner than most--to identify himself independently, reaching the point at which he can say: "I am no longer an orphan. I am a single human being. It's a matter of words.""

My Two Cents:

"The First True Lie" is the story about Luca, a young boy, whose life is turned upside down when his mother, the only adult in his life, dies in their apartment and leaves him alone. Luca isn't quite sure what to do. He is absolutely sure though that he does not want to be an orphan so he does not tell anyone about his mother's death and decides that it is up to him to make a life for himself.

I really liked the writing of the book. This book is more of a novella than a novel and is quite short but the writing really packs a big punch. Luca is not your normal child. He sees the world very differently than a lot of other children. It was so interesting to see how he deals with his mother's death. He is still at that age where it doesn't seem like he really understands what death is or just how much his life is going to change. Luca is definitely a memorable character and I know he's one that I am going to be thinking of for a very long time.

The ending was really why I am mixed on this book. I like concrete endings or at least endings where I can figure out what happens after the last page of the book. Here, I don't think you got that. On one hand, it makes me wonder and think about the book. On the other hand, it left me a little frustrated. What happens to Luca??? How do things end?

Even with the nebulous ending, this book is a good ride!



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