Author: Ditte Wiese
Published: Carlsen, 2017
Provinspis – the book
Ida is a young girl living in a Danish province. Her mother, who is French, left many years ago after having withered away in Denmark for a long time. Ida mostly feels the same way about the small town that she lives in; it is boring as hell. Luckily her best friend Jon lives only 185 steps further down her street and she is always welcome at his place, which she benefits from on the nights where her own house is filled with the yelling of her dad and his girlfriend. Ida dreams of the day she can leave the town behond and travel out into the world; she just has to finish gymnasiet (high school/upper secondary)! She spends a lot of time working in the local grocery store, in order to save up for the travels she plans. And she needs to survive the boredom, which she does through sex, drugs and alcohol.
But something happens. Like things always do. Finishing her education suddenly doesn’t seem so easy. Being friends with Jon is suddenly not so easy; especially not while he is hooking up with Ida’s only girlfriend. Yet growing up means dealing with these kinds of things, and so Ida does. The only way she knows how.
(be aware of possible spoilers)
I was swept away by Ida and her struggles. To be honest, I don’t think I would have befriended Ida had I known her, which makes me feel sad, because she really needs a proper friend. My heart broke a little all the time she was left on her own. Even when she, in some way, caused it herself. The story is told through Ida’s point of view, which creates a beautiful layered experience, when reading the story, because everything is told through her language. I loved how the book slowly builds up to something, that I had a hard time figuring out, and at times I honestly felt as confused as Ida, which is why I never really believed myself, when I thought I knew what would happen next.
Provinspis is both a beautiful and an awful story about growing up and finding yourself in the world. Ida says: “The meaning of life is to be other places“, which I feel is so essential to the character of Ida. Even when she genuinly enjoys herself in the small town, she needs to get away. In many ways her story reminds me of Edith Wharton’s “Summer”, where the main character Charity constantly searches for the place she belongs; the place she can call home. Ida is searching for the same thing, really. Believing she will find herself, when she gets to the right place. Believing that there is so much of her mother in her, that she will never find peace in a small town in one of the provinces of Denmark.
Should you read it?
Provinspis is an honest story. The language is youthful, which is important since the target group is young adults. Ida is an average girl, who most young adults will be able to identify with. She is strong and outgoing, yet vulnerable and insecure. Everybody can benefit from reading this. The younger ones can maybe identify with Ida or one of the other characters in the book, which can sometimes help them in their own search for themselves. Parents can get some insight into the mind of a young girl, which may help them through their child’s process of growing up. Everybody will get an exceptionally brutally honest and wonderful reading experience, where the more experienced reader wil notice the layers, use of language and how the text combines form and content.
So the short answer is: Yes, you should read it.