Corna (You’ll Fall Asleep, 2014, etc.) offers a fantastical novel about a fearful girl and the strange events that help her find herself.
Helen is a troubled, nervous girl. She finds it hard to make friends and suffers from extreme anxiety about questions of life and death. One day, her brother Alex, a pilot, asks her to help him celebrate his 1,000th flight by flying with him to any destination she chooses. She selects a lake that she’s been to before that’s tucked away in a far-off mountain range and difficult to reach, even by plane. During the flight, Helen has a strange experience: She looks out over the lake and sees a young girl on its shore whom she intensely identifies with, and suddenly, she feels transported to the lake’s shores and can feel the young girl’s emotions. When Helen tries to explain her strange experience to her brother, he doesn’t believe her. After they return from their trip, Helen embarks on her own voyage back to the lake to discover who the little girl was and why she feels so drawn to the area. Along the way, she makes friends with a man named Johnny, who explains the origins of his village and the towns nearby. Later, she meets nearby homeowners Alice and Martin, who take her under their wing and invite her to learn more about the village’s community. Soon, they reveal that Alice is one of the few people in the world who can remember their past lives, and the village is filled with others who have the same talent.At first incredulous, Helen begins a journey that changes every aspect of her life. Corna’s novel centers on an uplifting message about conquering fear, and it reads more like a folk tale than a contemporary novel. However, many aspects of the story may strike readers as hard to believe, and its lack of clarity may make it hard to follow at times (“You can lose yourself in pain as in happiness, but if you want to be yourself, you will have to be able to keep yourself in the middle”).The dialogue can also be awkward and unrealistic; for example, when Alex doubts his sister’s experience, he says, “Although I don’t believe in paranormal phenomena, perhaps we are in the presence of such a situation.”
An uneven fantasy tale with an encouraging message about embracing life’s risks.