In this mystical novel, a girl finds herself torn between her own reality and an alternate world she’s created in her own mind.
This debut novel opens with Martina waking up in the woods, with no memory of what has happened to her. She wanders toward the home of a woman named Ginetta, who tells her about different events from her past. Martina has no recollection of them, and Ginetta seems surprised and disappointed; it’s clear that something odd has happened to Martina’s mind. Over time, Martina begins to have scattered memories—most notably of a child named Edi. Corna’s elegant attention to detail allows readers to immerse themselves in the setting: “[T]he cicadas pushed their singing from bush to bush, far away. Intense flavors came to her nose.” The novel’s second section focuses on Martina’s teenage years in a northern Italian city. Her family situation remains unclear; random friends come in and out of her life, and some are dying from drug abuse. After Martina has a strange reaction from trying some “smoke,” she feels alienated by the local townspeople. These scenes, which initially seem misplaced, offer insight into Martina’s past while spinning a web of confusion, and the author fills them with strong, scenic prose. The third section jumps back further to Martina’s childhood, and reveals the details of Martina’s odd memory problems. As a child, Martina has frequent conversations with animals, which upsets her parents and causes her classmates to see her as strange. As a punishment, her father locks her in a closet for two hours each day; surprisingly, Martina begins to enjoy it, using the time to have vivid dreams that take her to the world of Edi and Ginetta. The final section reveals that her imagination may not be completely fictional, as her dreams and reality collide. The novel keeps readers asking questions throughout, but its fragmented style often means that the puzzles never quite fit back together. However, readers who enjoy introspective, philosophical stories will likely enjoy it.
A poetic novel that effectively integrates elements of science fiction, fantasy and drama.