Seita Parkkola: Usva [Mist]

29 January 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Usva
[Mist]
Kuvitus: [Ill. by] Jani Ikonen
Helsinki: WSOY, 2009. 375 p.
ISBN 978-951-0-35352-3
19.70 €, hardback

Usva, the 13-year-old protagonist of Seita Parkkola’s novel of the same name, is unusually tall. From her height, she can see farther and more clearly than other people. Usva is a coming of age story in a minor key, its melancholy underlined by Jani Ikonen’s dark black and white illustrations. The images ooze with romantic dereliction, run-down buildings, storm-driven tree limbs, fish on dry land gasping for air. The illustrations are a good example of the visual world brought to life by the success of Japanese manga. Parkkola aptly describes the painful aspects of puberty from the point of view of both the child and the parent. She adds an air of mystification to the age of 13, which she sees as a turning point between childhood and adulthood. The novel can be read as a vision of the near future, of the disintegration of societal support, the increasing fragility of parenthood. Childhood’s end arrives at an ever younger age, and adulthood is entered with a leap, eyes open, without parental support to guide a child into her own adulthood.

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