But then she lowered her head again, down, behind the door. Four teenage boys stand on a bridge in the rain, staring down at a fast-flowing river. The apparatus of standard normality includes, incontrovertibly, the fact that we are Catholics—believers and Catholics. The alessxndro with Andre has a dramatic impact on the 4 young people, and Baricco describes that from the perspective of one of them, in a searching, groping style that has something innocent-childlike. Especially the end, in which it is suggested that the I-figure and Andre find a kind of purification, was a letdown.
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It is a coming-of-age story of 4 young males from the lower social class, who lead a more or less sheltered life that is strongly influenced by a social and cultural type of Roman Catholicism, which to my knowledge almost only exists in Italy and Poland.
That sheltered world, including seemingly harmonious family life, unspoken but highly developed ethical codes and social engagement in a retirement home, is completely turned upside down by the girl Andre the name alone is a very obvious reference to her being different.
Andre belongs to the better social class, leads a luxury life, but without further values, in an almost pure nihilism, in which suicide attempts and murders out of boredom regularly happen. The contact with Andre has a dramatic impact on the 4 young people, and Baricco describes that from the perspective of one of them, in a searching, groping style that has something innocent-childlike. Too me this style was a bonus, but it was the only one.
As I said, this novel did not really touch me. Especially the end, in which it is suggested that the I-figure and Andre find a kind of purification, was a letdown. Baricco explicitly refers to the Newtestamentical Emmaus-story as a kind of key to this book: "We walk around the world with a certainty in which all our diffidence dissolves, and which brings us on the edge of the absurd", because like the 2 apostles there is always something that we do not know and only see it when it is too late.
The whole story of the youngsters and Andre illustrate that the attempts to establish a world of certainties against the chaotic, uncertain world, that these attempts are futile, and that ultimately the mystery of the world and of life both crushes and entices us. Quite a message, you will think, and indeed, that is true, but still, Baricco should have given more attention to the staging of this story.
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