Feb 13, 2015

Our Endless Numbered Days, by Claire Fuller (March 2015)

You know those children that occasionally appear, ragged and emotionally stunted after years of being "missing?" Peggy is one of those children. Her father, obsessed with survivalism and self-sufficiency, steals Peggy away to a cabin in a very remote part of Germany while her mother, pregnant with their second child, is away touring (she is a concert pianist). After a particularly violent storm, Peggy - now called Punzel - is told by her father that the world outside their little slice of forest has completely disappeared. The Great Divide, he calls it, and Peggy is terrified and distraught to lose her mother, her home, and the entire world all at once. After nearly starving their first winter, Peggy and her father survive by themselves for eight years until Peggy discovers there is a third person left: Reuben.

It's a beautifully written book, told from Peggy's perspective both as a child and later when she walks out of the woods and is reunited with her mother and the brother she never met. It's a story that in the hands of someone unskilled would be very slow and plodding, but Fuller's pacing is spectacular, and the book never gets boring. It's emotionally difficult to read, certainly not good for someone looking for a light read or a happy ending. Haunting and lovely, it's an impressive piece of writing, and will stay with me for a while yet.

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