By: Rufi Thope
Published Year: 2016
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after years of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera's life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother's homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth?
What I thought
There was something about this book that really go under my skin. I really struggled with reading it as it gave me a constant feeling of anxiety and unease. I actually debated at one point not finishing the book, but I powered through.
Lucas is a 35 year old man who is the father of 17 year old Vera. He hasn’t really been a part of her life and has never been married to her mother. He has only truly been a part of Vera’s life for the fast 4-5 years. Early in the book, Vera is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Both Lucas and her mother Katya have a difficult time believing and accepting this diagnosis. Lucas decides that taking Vera on a trip to Lithuania, where he wants to go to learn about his roots, will be good for her. While there, she writes home to her boyfriend, Fang, and those letters start each chapter.
I didn’t mind Lucas’s story much (though he’s a bit of a bumbling idiot which was irritating), but Vera’s letters just drained me. I started to skip them as the books went on. They were incomprehensible philosophical ramblings and honestly, they just got to me. I think that this means that Thorpe did a good job writing from the perspective of a person with a mental disorder, but it was a big struggle for me.
Between Lucas’s immaturity and Vera’s mental instability, I didn’t find much enjoyable about this book. It was a struggle for me pretty much from page one and I think I only really enjoyed the last 10% off the book.
What Book Club Thought
Book club definitely enjoyed this book more than I did. They liked how realistic it was and how Thorpe wrote Lucas to be in such denial of his daughter’s mental status that he ignores obvious signs that she is on the verge of another mental break down. We did agree that seeing the view of Katya change throughout the book was a positive and an interesting development. In the end, while I didn’t enjoy the book, it did make for some good book club discussion. I think there was just something about it that at my core made me feel so uncomfortable I just couldn’t enjoy it.