Title: The First True Lie
Author: Marina Mander
Published: January 21, 2014
Format Read/Pages: eBook/102
How I Acquired It: NetGalley
Date Finished: January 16, 2014
*This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Meet Luca, a curious young boy living with his mother, a taciturn woman who every now and then tries out a new father. Luca keeps to himself, his cat, Blue, and his favorite toys—words. One February morning his mom doesn't wake up to bring him to school, so Luca—driven by a deep fear of being an orphan—decides to pretend to the world that his mom is still alive. At first it's easy. Luca dresses himself for school, makes sure Blue gets his dinner, and manages to avoid nosy neighbors. He and Blue camp out in the living room and embark on imaginary expeditions to outer space, and Luca dreams about marrying his school crush, Antonella. Soon, however, the laundry starts piling up, the fridge emptying—and the smell of Mama's decaying body begins to permeate the apartment.
As Luca grapples with what to do, we ultimately witness something much more poignant than the morbid circumstance—a young boy's journey to the point at which he can say: “I am no longer an orphan. I am a single human being. It's a matter of words.”
I really don’t know how to feel about this book. Mander provides a very well written story, but I found myself just skimming the pages at times trying to find the next important detail. One thing that I think really dissuaded me from being able to get into the story was the fact that Luca’s voice was written in such an adult way and he made references that I really don’t think a boy that young would know. But then in the next sentence we have the thoughts and actions that remind us that he is still very young. I believe the contradictory nature of the writing is really what threw me off.
I also found myself worrying more about the cat than Luca. I am a sucker for animals and to think that Blue was not going to be getting something to eat was really sad for me, most people would help a child when they need it, but they wouldn’t care about a cat. The story really was very beautiful, I just could not get into it.