Readers will likely have difficulty connecting with this clunky translation of German author Röder’s story about a young city girl who moves to the country with her family and quickly finds herself wrapped up in an otherworldly mystery when she befriends the two boys next door.
Told from the three alternating perspectives of Mia, Alex and Jay, the novel follows the teens as their friendships grow and secrets from their pasts are revealed. The heart of the story centers around Alex and Jay’s mother, who mysteriously disappeared when the boys were young, leaving them to be raised by a strict Catholic grandmother. While Alex clings to the pictures that come once a year on his birthday, Jay seeks comfort in Alina, who lives by the river and fiercely demands his complete and undivided loyalty. When Mia threatens to become a distraction, Alina will stop at nothing to keep Jay all to herself. Unfortunately, Röder’s efforts to create a real sense of mystery or credible, likable characters are thwarted by clunky dialogue and a narrative that feels both forced and foreign. This is not a translation that helps readers lose themselves in the story, as it never feels authentic.
This novel is, well…lost in translation. (Fiction. 13 & up)