Amanda, a young woman, lies in a hospital. We don’t know how she got there, or what’s wrong with her. Sitting on her bed is a young boy, David, who is not her son, but who nonetheless seems to know a lot about her. David is urging Amanda to tell her story, to be observant, but to be quick, as she doesn’t have much time left. What follows is a somewhat suspenseful story that touches on a few interesting themes, including parenthood, but ultimately doesn’t fully explore any of them.
This book definitely benefits from the reader taking their time to read it in one sitting, which I admittedly didn’t do. I read it over the span of a week or so and had to start it three times before I got the hang of the structure (curse you bedtime sleepiness!), and sadly it never gripped me as much as I had hoped it would. That said, this novella excels in the way it uses its form and structure to accentuate the story; there are no chapters, no breaks, and there is no narrator to guide us. All we have is a conversation between the woman and the boy that floats in and out of timelines without any warning, only giving us a few moments of clarity here and there.
Someone else much more knowledgeable than me reviewed this book, and explained that there is context and history around one of the key plot points (which I won’t spoil). Unfortunately I didn’t pick up on this at all, not being very familiar with South American history, and I wonder if I would have appreciated the story more if I had known about it. As it stands, it just leaves me feeling like this story had a lot of potential that it didn’t live up to.