As the COVID pandemic goes on and warnings from climate scientists become ever starker, it can feel that we are indeed facing the end of the world, which makes The Blue Book of Nebo timely. Dylan and his mother Rowenna have survived The End, an apocalyptic event involving the dropping of bombs and nuclear plant meltdown. They’re living alone in a small cottage above the Welsh town of Nebo, sustained by the vegetables they grow, by books (in English and Welsh) collected from the town’s deserted library, and by distant views of Caernarfon and the island of Anglesey. Readers are privy to their thoughts, which they record as diary entries in a notebook, the blue book of the title, a format that provides distinctly personal and raw viewpoints of the end of civilisation. Yet it’s not what you might expect. The absence of ‘the old world, the grey days of technicolour screens’ gives each of them the chance to be different people. Eight years since the event, Dylan has grown up and become a young man, loving and cheerful despite everything and proud of his ability to grow and build things. Rowenna has found herself too, no longer the hesitant, anxious young woman but strong, ‘like a warrior’ in Dylan’s words. Fundamental to their development is their reading. Dylan in particular is moved by books, memorising passages from favourite Welsh authors including T H Parry-Williams, while Rowenna has reclaimed her mother tongue from her teacher Miss Ellis’s criticisms of her ‘lived-in street Welsh’. They speak English to each other as, despite their closeness, each has secrets: Rowenna resorting to cruel sharpness to conceal the identity of Dylan’s father, Dylan turning a mutated hare into a pet unbeknownst to his mother. It’s a book that celebrates resilience, rebirth and the possibilities offered by returning to our roots and, as the lights come back on, we are confident that Rowenna and Dylan will do more than survive as civilisation returns. Subtle, powerful, frequently unsettling, this is an original and memorable read.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Andrea Reece http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Andrea Reece2022-01-20 08:00:242022-01-20 08:00:42The Blue Book of Nebo