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Saturday, April 9, 2016

La Petite Fille de Monsieur Linh

My last review was about my last Dutch book I had to read: Whatever Makes You Happy. This review is also a book that I've read for school, more specifically it's for my French class and for my portfolio. I found this book during my first portfolio earlier this year, I had to make exercises around this book and read a little short part of it. And seeing that we could read it for the second portfolio made me very glad. I'm talking about La Petite Fille de Monsieur Linh by Philippe Claudel


Because of a war, Monsieur Linh flees from his country together with his grandchild: Sang Diû. When he arrives at this new country he's all alone and is scared something will happen to Sang Diû, that's why he stays in the center he's sleeping at. But one day one of the hostesses tells him he should go outside because it's good for the both of them. And it's that same day that he meets Monsieur Bark. A citizen of the country that's still very unfamiliar for Monsieur Linh. Monsieur Bark just keeps talking and talking to Linh and he doesn't understand a word. Yet he feels very comfortable with him and he's also very nice to Sang Diû. Soon there's a friendship growing and the two can't be separated until the government decide that Monsieur Linh needs to go to an institution and there are no longer meetups with Monsieur Bark. This is against Linh his will and it brings him to a torturous choice: stay where he is with Sang Diû or flee and go find his only friend with Sang Diû... 

From the little excerpts that I already had read in the first portfolio, this story would be something very emotional and very special. And I was right! This wasn't just some story about a refugee meeting someone, it was so much more. It was the friendship between two cultures that really mattered! 

Monsieur Linh is such a nice old man! Of course he's broken, he's sad and depressed. He has to flee his hometown and his country all that while his son and daughter-in-law were murdered during the war that was going on. The only family that was left was his grandchild: Sang Diû. From the moment he found her, he decided to take care of her and that's the main reason he fled his country. This doesn't only show that he's a nice old man, it also shows that even though he's sad and all alone he's still a very strong person. He's strong for his grandchild because that's what she needs. He's strong because he needs to flee his country and leave all his belongings there. He needs to stay alive for Sang Diû and that says so much about this character! I was a great fan of Monsieur Linh and I wish I could really meet him! 

As for Sang Diû, I also want to bring her aboard in this review. Sang Diû, who's still a baby of 6 weeks old when they leave their country, means soft morning. Can I just tell you guys that I was so happy about this name, it's so nice and sweet for some reason. I just really liked her name. And next to that, she's a brave young lady because she keeps awfully quiet so her grandfather doesn't have too much difficulties with her... 

Then the next character we need to discuss: Monsieur Bark. He looks tough on the outside but the more Linh meets up with him the more we get to see of Bark. I have to say it's not all tough and rough with this guy either. He also has suffered from a tragedy, but not war. And this certain aspect in this life makes him come back each day to the bench in front of the park. That bench also becomes the place Linh and Bark meet, and keep meeting. Did I love Bark? Yes! Why? Because he was so much alike Linh, even though something bad happened in his life, he still goes on and keeps very strong. Also I really appreciated Bark because he accepted Linh and Sang Diû in his country while others didn't. Even refugees from Linh's country don't want him there and that was pretty sad. So thank you Phillipe Claudel for at least making someone appreciate the nice old man! 

The plot will also be concentrating on the acceptance between the two men. The first time they meet each other it's as if it was destined! Monsieur Bark just keeps talking and talking, not realizing that Monsieur Linh can't understand because he isn't a native speaker. However, instead of calling Linh rude for not answering Bark just keeps talking and tells him things you'd never tell a stranger! As for Linh he'll grow accustomed to Bark talking and talking. 

The story will really make you see that it's okay for people who don't speak the same language to become friends. It also shows you that it's possible! You just need to want it really badly before it'll all work out. Of course we see that it's difficult to understand each other but that won't stop the two characters to become friends and to grow comfortable with each other. This theme: friendship, was something that really made me enjoy this book. And the other thing that I was very keen on in this book was that even though you're broken, you can heal again. These two men conquered a lot in their lives and now they're finally finding a way to live with it.

In my point of view, it also has a message and that's something I was really happy about too. The message that I really got in this book was that even though the other is a refugee, even though you don't understand him or her, even though he or she has another culture: you need to be patience, sweet and understanding! Because you don't know what that person has been through and it's only the people who stay around and try, like Monsieur Bark, to find out that this person is actually quiet nice. I really like books that have a message in them, even though most of the time it's only me who (thinks to) sees a message in this! ;)

What else is there to tell about this story's plot... I guess it's safe to say that this is actually a really serious book because it has really serious themes in it. Above that it's actually quiet emotional to see them becoming closer to each other and it was very nice to see this. And if you think that is all there is to say to this story then I'm going to tell you that it's nothing like that! It has a surprising element and it has the mystery. 

Mystery because Linh is now in an institution that's really weird and we don't really know the purpose of, but what makes it more mysterious is why he can't see Bark anymore and why he can't go outside of the gates. This obviously makes Monsieur Linh very nervous because he doesn't know these new people and they're also not very nice. He wants to see his friend again, which gives him a choice: stay or go. With this choice comes of course Sang Diû, and he does ask himself what is best for her.

The final pages will create some confusion because of the surprising element but I actually can't say more because then I'll spoil things that I don't want to. I actually can't say something without giving hints and this book should be read without spoilers! Just know that the confusion will go away and after you closed the book you'll think about it and then see that it's actually told in the story multiple times! 

I also read this book in French and the French version is also very easy to read if you're interested in reading it in this language. I absolutely enjoyed reading it in French to be honest! 

Altogether this book was emotionally stunning with a phenomenal friendship between two men who don't understand each other. Claudel presents you a book where it is possible to be open and nice to refugees and where a message is formed for the reader: there are friendships in all sorts of forms and shapes and as long as you're open to each other and nice you might get a new friend. This book is a recommendation to anyone who wants to see something emotional, yet surprising and who doesn't mind to read about refugees. Also, I dare you to read it in French because it'll make your reading experience even better! 

"Qu'est-ce que donc que la vie humaine si ce n'est un collier de blessures que l'on porte autour de son cou? A quoi sert d'aller ainsi dans les jours, les mois, les années, toujours plus faible, toujours meurtri?"






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