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).

My holiday bag: A bag filled with books, that my local library made me for my holiday.

The Holiday Bag

In May I began a list of books I really wanted to read this summer, because I tend to be quite disorganised in my choice of reading material. I therefore have a lot of unread books piled up on my shelves, that I hardly ever get to read before something else comes along. So this year I wanted to try and make plans for the summer. Then, what happens is: my library introduces the ’Holiday Bag’ and I just had to give it a try!

Now you are probably asking: What is a Holiday Bag? And I can understand why you would ask that, since it is a brand new concept at my local library. I’m not saying that nobody else in the wold has done this before – I am just saying, it is understandable, if it has not been done where you are from.

However, it is really quite simple: A holiday bag is a bag filled with books, that you can borrow from the library and bring with you on holiday. The fun part is that you don’t get to choose the books yourself.

How does it work

It was so easy to get my hands on a holiday bag. All I had to do, was fill out a questionnaire and e-mail it to my library. I answered questions like: How many readers are in your family (Yes, it was originally thought to be a family-thing, but I belive that you can be a one-man-family in these situations)? How old are the members of your family? What genres do you prefer to read?

A week or so later I received an e-mail telling me I could come pick up my holiday bag. I was so excited! I rarely let other people pick my reads, but I just couldn’t let this opportunity slide.

The bag was supposed to contain two or three books per person, but I think that whoever picked the books for my bag was overthrown with excitement, because I came home with ten books. TEN. I did mention, that my family consists of just two people, which would give us six books in the holiday bag. Well, maybe my librarian figured there should be somehing to pick and choose from. I am not complaining, I was merely surprised!

What was in my holiday bag

And so we close in on the content. I will list the books below with their title and a short summary of their story. The ones that are Danish, will have a translated title too.

  • The Crocodile by Maurizio de Giovanni
  • De utilpassede (The Maladjusted) by John Kenn Mortensen
  • Det bliver pinligt uanset hvad (It will be awkward no matter what) by Tyra Teodora Tronstad
  • Flyspotteren (The Planespotter) by Ole Clifford
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
  • Hunters in the Night by Oliver Bottini
  • The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse by Fredrik Brounéus
  • Regnfaldet (The Rainfall) by Gudrun Østergaard
  • Silence by Mechtild Borrmann
  • Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

To be fair, a lot of these books had me wrinkle my nose. The fact that I only knew (about) three of the writers made me rather uncertain, but when I decided to do this, I knew that there was the possibility of receiving a whole bag of books not to my liking. Yet, I had to give it a chance, so I picked a handful of the books and put them on my summer TBR (read more about that here). None of the crime fiction books made it on the list. The only reason for that was really, that I didn’t feel like reading crime fiction, when I put together my list.

why try out the concept of a holiday bag

The concept of the holiday bag is a great way to read books, you would not have come across otherwise. It is a great way for you to meet new authors and it gives the library a chance to suggest some of the great books in their assortment, that may not be checked out that often. Most of the books in my bag are somewhat new (ranging from 2004-2016) and they have fairly good reviews on goodreads, so it’s not like I ended up with a bag of garbage (I never thought I would!). This is also a chance to show the users of the library, that the librarians are quite skilled at recommending books based on your likings.

What’s the Verdict

Oh, what a question! Well, I am only halfway through my TBR of those books, so it’s a little hard to tell. The books I have read so far have been surprisingly good. I am biased, by not having picked them myself, and that does have an effect on my experience. I wish it didn’t, though.

As I mentioned earlier, this is the first year my library are doing this, but I hope it will be a recurring concept in the years to come. If possible, I will order a holiday bag again next year. I  thought it was mighty fun to expect the unexpected: To hope for something and receive a whole lot something else. Next year, though, I will make sure to write a few of the books I have liked in the e-mail, when I make my reservation. I believe it must be hard to pick out books for random people, when all you have to go on is the person’s age and prefered genre(s). So far, they’ve done a pretty decent job down at my local library. I still think it would be something that could make their job a bit easier, and ensure that the readers receive books to their liking.