An autobiographical novel by Swedish novelist, poet, and playwright Pleijel about a young woman's search for meaning, identity, and independence.
When she learns of a fortuneteller’s prophecy of her beloved aunt’s life and death, Neta is swept up in the possibilities for romance and adventure it contains but also comforted by an underlying sense of order to the world in the predestination of a life's events. Tossed in the chaos of adolescence and emerging sexuality, and increasingly aware of the instability coursing beneath her family’s seemingly indissoluble bonds, Neta craves coherence and balance: between the unknown and the tangible; her hyperlogical mathematician father and her intense, volatile musician mother; the potential for a supernatural world and the earthly concerns of the everyday. As a young girl, she seeks deeper truths through religion but finds herself unable to believe. When her foray into faith fails, Neta performs a musical number in a school production and is seduced by the power of imitation, of pretending to be a more confident person than she is. She becomes preoccupied with simulating passion though is unable, too, to forge a real connection or fall in love, wandering numbly from partner to partner. Desperate to differentiate herself from her family, her town, her suffocating mother, Neta's awareness and self-knowledge deepen, and she tumbles through the revelations of a girl, then young woman, finally finding space for her mind's expansion in the study of philosophy and literature. The story occasionally loses its forward drive and turns episodic but is overall deeply inquisitive, as Pleijel explores the mysteries of what it is to be alive, to be connected to family while inhabiting the self alone, to love, to seek and live a life of meaning.
A delicate study of a young girl’s maturation, airy and filled with imagery of light, at times advancing unevenly, but more often funny, familiar, and profound.