Monday, October 11, 2010

To Siberia by Per Petterson

To have grown up in Denmark during the Nazi occupation was odious. The narrator of To Siberia recalls her life fifty some odd years prior to the beginning of the story. The reader quickly learns about her family. Her father is unsuccessful as a business man despite being a talented "joiner". Her mother is in her own world where she's preoccupied with singing hymns. Only her brother Jesper understands her and offers her companionship;  however, he has been dead for more than half her life. Jesper refered to her as "Sistermine".

Given their repressive environment both Jesper and his sister imagine far away places.Jesper wanted to get away to Morocco and his sister dreams of Siberia.

When the Germans arrive on April 9, 1940 their world enlarges beyond the confines of their small village.  Jesper who is older joins the resistance and their lives move in different directions. 

After the war Jesper travels to Morocco and his sister moves to Copenhagen. A planned reunion between brother and sister never happens.

Petterson's book unfolds as if it is happening in the present moment. 

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