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review 2014-07-18 11:24
Jostein Gaarder's The Orange Girl
The Orange Girl - Jostein Gaarder

First things first, before I start talking about the book itself: (1) I've ruined myself for any other Jostein Gaarder's books by reading Vita Brevis first. Anything and everything pales in comparison to Floria Aemilia's fictional letter to Augustinus Aurelius. (2) I'm not really a fan of stories told by teenage boys. I read them, I like some of them but I'm less forgiving to a book as a whole when I don't like the main character when it's a boy.

That said, this might contain more or less spoilery spoilers.

About The Orange Girl.

The Orange Girl is a good book. It's the second one I've read by Jostein Gaarder and I already feel he's a master of storytelling, he's very good at writing different voices (a woman that've been through a lot like Floria Aemilia in Vita Brevis, teenage boy who's father died when he was very young like Georg and long dead father speaking to his son through a letter like Jan Olav) and, oh god, the letters. I love letters, letters are my vital like. I have moments when I want to read nothing else but epistolary novels (the ones that are written in letters, or emails, or diary entries...).

But... And there is a but with The Orange Girl. Every story is a journey of sorts that we as readers decide to visit and go along with the character. This is a journey of Jan Olav and the Orange Girl (told via eleven years old letter). And it's also a journey of Georg. And that is the problem. I don't like Georg. It might be because he's a teenage boy (and I'm no longer teen age and I'm definitely not a boy) and it also might be because his voice is, to me, in a way more annoying than Holden Caufield's. Because his "descriptions" of his family were more than unnecessary. Because more than half of the back story he provides disturbs the beautiful search for love and reflection of life and death his father was sending him.

So here, Georg was my problem. And yes, it's probably just because he's a teenage boy and the way of thinking of a teenage boy makes me wanna... do things. Like cross all of the lines he has "written" off of the book. With think black marker. And I suppose that's why it was so easy to put the book down for couple of months after just forty pages and than pick it up again and put it down again (and than finish it while commuting to and from work).

There. But I still like the book very much so maybe I'm not that much unforgiving as I like to think I am

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