Jacqueline Woodson – Red at the Bone

Jacqueline Woodson – Red at the Bone

When Iris gets pregnant at the age of fifteen, she only takes in the fact that she and her boyfriend Aubrey are going to have a baby. What this really means for her life, she cannot assess at that moment. Sixteen years later, her daughter Melody is having her coming-of-age-party wearing the dress that was once meant for her mother. Not just Iris’s life takes another road with the unexpected kid, also her parents’ plans and of course those of Aubrey and his family change due to the new situation and all of them also have to face the world outside their family bubbly where not everybody is totally understanding. A novel about family bonds and about what influence a single human being can have on how you live your life.

Jacqueline Woodson has chosen a discontinuous mode of narration. Not only does she spring back and forward chronologically, but she also gives different characters a voice and also has a 3rd person narrator tell parts of the plot. This makes the whole story quite lively and often unexpected because at the beginning of each chapter you do not know where you are starting from and who is addressing you.

There are some central topics focussed on, first of all, of course, the teenager falling pregnant. The family manages the situation perfectly, no major fight or disruption arises from Iris’s decision to keep the baby, but it is hard to read about the reactions of her friends and school, even though I would classify it as highly authentic. The only person really struggling with the new-born, yet, is Iris who can never really bond with her daughter. She puts some effort in their relationship, but it is simply never enough and she most certainly suffers from the chances that she in her own perception never had in her life due to becoming a mother that early – admittedly, I had the impression that life could be much worse under these circumstances and Iris had a lot of opportunities to fulfil her dreams.

Another aspect are the class-related and skin-colour attributed options in life. These do not determine the characters’ fate, yet provide some food for thought as do family relations in general in the novel.

The novel offers a lot of blind spots, leaves gaps that you have to fill on your own due to the structure of the narration. I actually liked it because it makes you think on after reading and sticking with the book much longer. I also enjoyed Jacqueline Woodson’s style e of writing which is well adapted to the different characters and authentic.

Melanie Golding – Little Darlings

Melanie Golding – Little Darlings

When Lauren Tranter gives birth to her baby twins, an incident severely shakes her: a woman went into her room and tried to swap the children. Since neither the nurses nor the rest of the hospital staff saw anybody enter or leave, Lauren’s statement is dismissed as a hallucination by an exhausted mother. Life with Morgan and Riley is hard for her after she has returned home. Her husband more or less leaves her alone and with twins who cry and want to be fed 24 hours a day, Lauren feels dead-tired and hardly leaves the bed anymore. When one afternoon she finally finds the strength to meet some friends in a park, the worst case happens: her baby boys are abducted. Luckily, they are quickly returned, but Lauren is sure: these are not her boys, the evil woman has exchanged them.

Melanie Golding’s thriller plays with the most awful thing that could happen: the abduction of your children. Having two little precious peas whom you would kill for endangered is surely the worst that could happen to a mother. Yet, all though the novel, there is some nagging since you can never be absolutely sure if you should trust Lauren or if she actually is suffering from some mental disorder.

What I liked especially about the novel is the combination of some dark fairy tales with hallucinations or mental disorders. Everybody knows that tales are not true and the magic that happens there is just an invention. Nevertheless, they are fascinating also for adults and even against better knowledge, you sometimes wish for them to become real. Yet, there is this tradition of the gloomy tales that mainly frighten you, even as an adult, and I always wondered where those stories come from and why they outlived generations even though they are hard to endure. “Little Darlings” cleverly rewrites this tradition but does not provide a finite answer to some big questions. You conclude the novel with a slight thrill – wonderfully done.

Max Bronski – Schneekönig

Max Bronski – Schneekönig

Nach einem kalten Abend auf dem Münchner Christkindlmarkt ist Wilhelm Gossec auf dem Weg nach Hause zu seinem Trödelladen als er plötzlich angefahren wird. Zwischen Sein und Nichtsein schwebend scheint man ihm noch eine Chance zu geben und schickt ihn zurück auf die Erde, wo er vor seinem Laden ein Paar in Not findet. Er nimmt die beiden mit zu sich und kurz danach assistiert er Mariella auch schon bei der Geburt ihres Sohnes Joshua. Ein ungutes Gefühl hatte sie davon abgehalten in die Klinik zu gehen, in der just in dieser Nacht zwei neugeborene Jungen ermordet wurden. Mariella druckst herum, ihr Begleiter ist nicht der Vater des Kindes, schnell wird Gossec klar, dass die Frau in höchster Gefahr ist. Derweil bricht der Winter über die bayerische Hauptstadt herein und das Leben kommt zum Erliegen – nicht jedoch für Gossec, der neben der Findelfamilie auch noch seine eigene Bleibe retten muss und dann war da ja auch noch die Frage, ob er jetzt gen Himmel reisen darf oder doch noch ein paar Jahre irdisches Dasein genießen soll…

Max Bronskis sechster Fall um den Trödelhändler ist kein bierernster Krimi, sondern recht humorvoll in Handlung und Sprache und durch die schon wenig realistische Ausgangssituation eine eher unterhaltsame denn spannende Angelegenheit. Nichtsdestotrotz gibt es eine gut konstruierte und durchaus knifflige Krimihandlung, die nebenbei um das ernste Thema der Immobilienhaie und die schwierige Situation auf dem Münchner Wohnungsmarkt ergänzt wird.

Gossec ist als Figur kauzig angelegt und kann dank seiner Menschenkenntnis den Fall eher unkonventionell angehen. Vor dem Hintergrund der Ereignisse der vergangenen Tage erscheint mir auch das Vorgehen der saudischen Prinzen auch keineswegs mehr so abwegig wie das vielleicht noch vor Kurzem der Fall gewesen wäre. Dass Mariella und das Baby in ernsthafter Gefahr schweben, wenn ein Killerkommando nach ihnen sucht, ist leicht vorstellbar. Neben dieser Haupthandlung fand ich jedoch die Problematik um die alte Immobilie, in der Gossec und seine Nachbarn wohnen, nicht nur überzeugend eingebaut, sondern auch als reale Bedrohung der normalen Bürger gut gewählt. So entsteht eine gelungene und unterhaltsame Mischung aus Spannung und Humor, die man aufgrund der Kürze des Romans an einem entspannten Sonntagnachmittag genießen kann.