MyMum said sometimes refugees don’t eat anything for days and days. Sometimes weeks and months so I am really lucky. I think she exaggerates. But I think she is right about the lucky bit.
Or maybe not. Sometimes I forget that MyMum is dead. But that is probably better than remembering.
When Frankie’s mother dies, he tells his teacher, of course. But he can’t seem to get anyone at his school in southern England to listen to him. So the six-year-old comes up with a plan: go to France, find a police station, and ask the officers to ring his father. Thus a stowaway’s view of the sea opens Giller-nominated Pauline Holdstock’s eighth novel, narrated in turns by Frankie—who likes cheese, numbers, the sea when it’s pink and “smooth like counting,” and being alone when he feels bad—and a cast of characters that includes his worried Gran, his callous teacher, and his not-so-reliable father. Set in the summer of Annichka the Soviet space dog, Here I Am! is a mesmerizing story about the lucidity of children and the shortsightedness of adults.
Praise for Pauline Holdstock
“[The Blackbirds’s Song] examines questions of faith, meaning and power; [Holdstock’s] investigation of these issues is profound and beautifully paced, so that despite the intensity of the subject, the momentum of the narrative never falters, the evocation of place and time having an almost cinematic immediacy.”—Times Literary Supplement
“Powerful, almost elemental storytelling, an achievement not only of craft but of raw emotion. [The Hunter and the Wild Girl] pulses with vitality, building to a stunning, shattering conclusion.”—Vancouver Sun
“Holdstock’s ability to paint strange and compelling characters and march them through wondrous and terrifying events leaves one not too concerned about tracing themes. As her title suggests, mysterious life spills beyond the boundaries of inquiry.”—Globe and Mail
“A thorough examination of what, exactly, it means to be a person—a question more daunting than any human antagonist, and one Holdstock raises gradually, with great skill and a light touch . . . [A] rich, immersive experience with little left to the imagination. That’s a good thing: hers is the kind of prose you get lost in.”—National Post
“Pauline Holdstock’s language is so powerful, her writing so wrought with emotion and beauty, that you become fully lost in her world.”—Winnipeg Review