Doubleday Books August 2018 (Hardback)
Liv died when she was six years old. At least that’s what the authorities think.
Her father knew he alone could keep her safe in this world. So one evening he left the isolated house his little family called home, he pushed their boat out to sea and watched it ruin on the rocks. Then he walked the long way into town to report his only child missing.
But behind the boxes and the baskets crowding her dad’s workshop, Liv was hiding. This way, her dad had said, she’d never have to go to school; this way, she’d never have to leave her parents.
This way, Liv would be safe
Suspenseful and heartbreaking, Resin is the story of what can happen when you love someone too much – when our desire to keep them safe becomes the very thing that puts them in danger.
This was a Goldsboro Book of the Month, so although I bought it I didn’t know anything about it prior to reading it. The main story is about Liv who lives remotely with her parents on an Island. Largely estranged from the rest of the community, as the book progresses their isolation becomes tangible. The story does provide some backstory of Liv’s Dad and brother and how they lived with their grandparents in the same house.
A really interesting read that sensitively portrays a familial fear, or reluctance to engage with the world, preferring to live privately as a family unit. But actually without it being made explicit this book is about mental illness, grotesque hoarding is depicted but possibly also some anxiety behaviours that prevent social interaction. The impact on the family is profound and as the book progressed the situation felt increasingly disturbing and sinister. Evidence of warped thinking justified actions outside of social norms, again impacted by the extensive isolation and the actions of Liv’s father became increasingly twisted.
This was a sad story that became profoundly so as the book neared its conclusion. I think I thought it was going to be similar to My Absolute Darling (reviewed here) but actually it wasn’t. I felt sympathy in this family and it very much felt like a situation that had started well, but due to tragedy and other factors things deteriorated in the most devastating ways. The decline was insidious and I think that helped the characters to remain sympathetic.
To be clear, I really liked this book, I read it quickly over 2 days (300 Pages). The story is told in the 3rd person, Liv is the main protagonist, but we discover something about Liv’s father’s childhood and how he met his beautiful wife. The perception of the family by the rest of the community is touched on and we also hear from Liv’s mother via letters written to Liv. Set in Scandinavia and translated from Danish to English by Charlotte Barslund. A book I rate highly and definitely worth checking out, if you’re happy with sinister and disturbing, particularly the end section!
About the Author
Ane Riel has won Scandinavia’s four most prestigious literary awards for her novel Resin, which has been a bestseller around the world.