A Rogue Librarian's Reading List











{February 15, 2012}   La fille d’en face by Linda Amyot

Plot: After a terrible car accident, Élaine’s best friend Lena is left in a coma. Everyone expects her to be upset but things have been different between them since Lena betrayed her. At first her anger is still stronger than her grief but after a few days, she starts visiting Lena, talking to her. Slowly she reveals their past, her feelings and the secret that tore them apart.

La fille d’en face roughly means The girl across from me. It refers both to the fact that Lena is literally Élaine’s neighbour and to the fact that Lena acts as a mirror to her (even their names are the same, though in different languages). It is only in venting at the now silent Lena that Élaine can come to understand and accept herself. Lena isn’t really a character: she gets no dialogue, even in flashbacks, despite being described as someone with a love of words, someone who is always talking.

This is a well written, very readable book. The prose is clear and the book is rich in imagery. And it’s only about 60 pages long and very light on descriptions so it won’t scare reluctant readers. But the book completely failed me on an emotional level. Seeing as this is a novel entirely about emotion, about what is going on in Élaine’s head this is a big problem for me. I assume I was suppose to be sad for this girl in the coma, for this broken friendship, that I was supposed to feel Élaine’s confusion and pain but I didn’t. I’m not a big fan of authors telling me word for word what their character is feeling as Amyot does but as we are in Élaine’s head, I can accept it. What I find harder to accept is that Amyot seems to place more importance on maintaining the secret of the cause of the rift between the girls than actually making it significant.

It’s a shame this book couldn’t move me. I can see how it could appeal to a teen and also how effectively it could be used in a classroom setting. Many people do love this book. But though it won last year’s TD award, I find it hard to believe that this was the best French Canadian litterature had to offer in 2010. It is, to me, a book with incredible potential that was sadly not as deep as it could have been.

2012 (#19)

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