Beside the Sea: book review

Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi (Translated from French by Adriana Hunter). Publisher: Tin House Books (September 2012). Fiction. Hardcover. 119 pages. ISBN: 978-1935639428.

I’m the only one who’s so exhausted, didn’t I used to long to be knocked down by a car and break my leg so I’d finally have a good enough reason to be left in peace? When am I going to be left in peace? I’m just missing a few chemicals, yes, that’s what I tell myself when I swallow my pills, I’ve got fewer chemicals than other people . . . maybe it’s that simple, maybe that’s all it is: a few more chemicals . . . a few less . . .

In her first novel, French playwright Veronique Olmi provides a devastating, unnerving and realistic portrait of depression. The author unfurls these details within a confined space, time and realm as the subject, a single mother of two young sons, feels them herself. Trapped by limited choices and poor decisions. Feeling alienated by society. Hearing voices, seeing things, sleeping poorly. Lonely. Immense physical pains. Aching throughout her body. Swearing and short-tempered with her children one minute and smothering them with kisses and attention the next. Feeling an inadequate mother as she recalls showing up late again to pick up her son at school or that her son’s don’t have everything that other children might have. She’s struggling. She’s tired. She takes her boys to see the ocean. A pile of change in hand, she will spare nothing for their happiness on this one day. Is this their last day? Is it her last day? It’s dark and elegantly written. And you won’t want to stop reading it once you’ve started.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.

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