Author: Care Santos
- ISBN: 9788468315775
- Release Date: 11-15-2016
-Reviewed by: Alejandro Varderi
A coming of age story from the perspective of two Catalan teenagers, mirroring the works of authors such as S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders), Hellen Hopkins (Crank Series) and Jay Hasher (Thirteen Reasons Why).
The novella foregrounds the two opposed worlds of two kids living in today’s Barcelona. Seventeen year old Xènia is a typical teen living with her parents, going to school and rebelling against parental authority. Èric is an eighteen year old lad that has been jailed in a correctional facility for the past four years. They meet in cyberspace and launch an e-mail and epistolary friendship, which will help both to grow-up and understand each other’s problems, dreams and desires.
Èric’s initial lie impersonating a successful boy in order to attract Xènia’s attention, would reveal the intimate tale of his harsh life, as the son of a prostitute growing-up alone in the streets, and prey of a drug dealer gay cousin who will kill a girl and blame Èric for the assassination. Care Santos articulates the bildungsroman ¬in short chapters divided in two parts. The first part is written from Xènia’s perspective, and the second from Èric’s; being the latter the most interesting, since the author explores the underworld of runaway kids and the reasons why, in many cases, they end up locked up in jail.
Care Santos’ direct language, well-structured and fit for translation into English, is a key feature of the novella. She is in control of her subject and builds up the necessary tension, relating Èric’s trials with precision and compassion, as it shows in her description of the mother’s parting: “Afterwards she left. Without warning, without saying goodbye, without telling where she was going. We found out that she was in London because she sent us a postcard. Isn’t it funny? On the postcard it was written my name, our address, and just two words: Merry Christmas. The postcard arrived on the twentieth of February or something like that. ‘Perhaps in London people are used to celebrate Christmas during Carnival,’ I thought, before throwing it into the garbage.” (95)
The book works well with both, young and adult readers regardless of their origin, due to the fact that these are universal topics, which convey the best and the worst of human nature. In Mentida contemporary society and the troubled youth with no way out take central stage. However, the open ending leaves room for Èric’s redemption and hope of a better future when at last he meets Xènia.
An intriguing intertext is J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, which links the interests of both adolescents. Their common fascination with teenage angst and alienation, central to Salinger’s text, tints their written exchange and brings the reader closer to the kids’ universe.