In between things, I have read Lavigne’s book Not Me. The premise of this book fascinated me: son tending to father stricken with Alzheimer’s discovers that father might not be the noble holocaust survivor that he believes him to be, that he is in fact a Nazi war criminal. As I said, fascinating! On many levels this novel worked… The relationship between the father and son is fraught with all sorts of guilt and this is neatly amplified by the son’s relationship with his own son and, in fact, his ex-wife. The characters’ relationship with Judaism is also interesting and illustrates some of the complexities faced by second generation survivors. However, the main thrust of this novel is the narrative found hidden in a series of journals supposedly left to the son and written by the father. These journals expose the father as a Nazi war criminal, a cog in the Nazi war machine and as a twisted and at first, immoral human being. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the author’s message is that humanity in its very nature is a complicated and layered beast, that people can change and that we should never underestimate the bonds of love and the lengths that ordinary people will go to in order to defend and protect those bonds.
However, while this should be a great book, it falls short in many central ways. There are far too many loose strands in this narrative – the relationship between the son and his sister is resolved in a way that by its nature requires further exploration. The son, Mikey, as a character is scatty and loose, somewhat deranged in parts without inspiring any empathy from readers. His own connections to those around him are vague. While this might be an element of his character, it works against him for readers do not feel connected to him, and instead of him bearing some sort of hero stance, he mostly comes across as an irritating idiot.
Am I glad I read this one? Yes. It was a most unusual story and has led me to consider morality and humanity from alternate perspectives. I’d be interested to know what others thing?
For a review and discussion of this text, see the link below. Apart from the fact that the author of this link has spelled the son’s name ‘Mickey’ when my version of the text clearly says ‘Mikey’, it’s a good discussion!