The book Ave Eva is placed a the bottom of a tree trunk in a pile of dead autumn leaves

Ave Eva

Author: Sulaima Hind

Published: Høst og Søn, 2003

The book

Eva is a young girl, who has just started school in the Danish gymnasium (Corresponds to starting junior year in an American high school or starting upper secondary school). She lives with her mother and father, although her mother travels a lot due to her line of work. In a lot of ways she is just like everybody else at that age: A little insecure, yet fighting to be herself. She quickly befriends a few girls from her class, who are very proactive feminists. This leads to Eva’s involvement in several violent actions. Back home her mother is mostly away, and her father practically lives in his study, making him almost as absent. Eva deliberately avoids him at meals, yet still enjoys his company when he pops out of his office to refill his drink.

Eva enjoys writing and she does all of her writing on an old typewriter. Her Danish teacher encourages her to write a novel for the school paper, which she does and he offers to read it and help her improve it. They meet at his place one evening, and instead of helping her with her novel he severely violates Eva, who leaves the place completely shattered.

Broken down she tries to move on with her life, but her friends are quick to see that Eva suffers. They finally get through to her, and decide that Eva needs to be avenged. This fuels Eva’s disintegration further and she stays at home, avoids her friends and makes it her sole purpose to care for her father, while her mother is away. However, the horrors in Eva’s life do not end here.

My thoughts

This story is so heartbreakingly beautiful, yet still so horrible and painful. At several times I wanted to reach out and hold Eva or tell her to seek help. Even before she begins to spiral downwards, there is something about her, that seems fragile. I first read this book shortly after it was published, and I loved it back then. Rereading it now made me realise, that there were a lot of things I did not understand or pick up on back then. The story is told by Eva herself, at a time long after the events occured, and she tells it to a man, who we at first do not know. She begins her story: “I was once a girl called Eva…” creating a distance between the woman she has become and the girl in the story. The writing is excellent and even before I finished the book I reserved another one of Hind’s books at the library.

I secretely considered keeping the book (which is stealing, so no I was not being serious), because I can’t seem to find a copy for sale anywhere. This is a book I would love to own, so I can reread it again and again – even after the library has to put the book away, because so many new ones will have arrived.

I strongly encourage all the Danish readers out there to read the book! It is magnificient and works well wether you are 14 or 27 (or 58 probably).

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