Little Island, a new entrant to the world of Irish children’s publishing, has as one of its intentions, the provision of an outlet for children’s and young adult fiction in translation, thus allowing young Irish readers access to places beyond their own green fields or postCeltic Tiger deprivation. It is to this initiative that we owe Thin Ice, translated from the Swedish by Susan Beard into English which is at once colloquial and fluid and always engaging. In essence, this is the story of 12-year-old Mik and how, with his mother dead, his father an alcoholic and an older brother concerned with making his own occasionally dubious way in the world, he finds himself very much a child of passage. He moves between social services, a benignly eccentric aunt and a far from benign family of dog breeders, with the last of whom he is made to suffer unspeakable degradation. Summarised in this way, it might seem that Engstrom’s novel takes its readers into the blackest recesses of the Scandinavian psyche and there are certainly moments when the wintry landscapes and darkening forests assume the role of moral wilderness, almost Beckettian in its bleakness. But there are some marvellously heart-warming moments also, most apparent in the book’s picturesque assortment of minor characters, not least the totally delightful girl called Pi, with whom Mik is to experience the first very tender intimations of pre-adolescent love. But what finally sustains Mik as he precariously makes his way across the literal and metaphorical patches of ‘thin ice’ in his life is the picture he has in his head of the ‘home’ he feels he has always been denied. How touching, then, it should be that ‘home’ is the word with which this captivating novel ends.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Angie Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Angie Hill2011-07-01 00:00:452022-02-06 19:40:13Thin Ice