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Book Review: "The Orange Girl" by Jostein Gaarder

5/5 - Jan Olav discovers the secrets of the universe...

By Annie KapurPublished 15 days ago 3 min read
From: Amazon

This was a random pick-up as my friends and I were on the way back from London and we’d all agreed to spend some time reading on the train as to keep the first class carriage overall noise to a minimum. I had already finished my book as had some others and so, we went to the ‘buy-one-get-one-half-price’ sale and rubbed our hands with glee as there were six of us in total. We used it to our advantage. I wanted to get a book that I had never heard of by an author I had never heard of (incoming: my one random book of the week, for those of you who have been reading carefully you would know that this means one time in the week, I read something I’ve never even considered before). Make way for ‘The Orange Girl’.

This is a book about a young boy who’s father died of an illness eleven years ago, making the boy nearly four when his father died (he is fifteen now). He has recently discovered a letter his father left him to read when he got older and, as he reads it, he discovers it to be nothing that he has planned. His father had a buried secret about someone called ‘The Orange Girl’ whom he met on a tram one day and made a fool of himself in front of. He follows her about until one day, something takes a weird turn and he realises he has broken the promise he kept to her.

From: Amazon

As Georg, the son, reads this, we see his thoughts interspersed with the ideas in his father’s letter. He has a deep fascination with the universe and its history. He enjoys talking about the Hubble Telescope and what it does, but most of all, he enjoys the mysteries of life based within the greater universe that constantly dictate our every move. His father has one thing that he wishes his son to do and that is the question that underpins the entire text.

I am not going to lie to you, when I read the blurb of this book I was not holding out too much hope for enjoying it. I very rarely enjoy a romance novel. But when I started reading it, I realised that this was not actually a romance novel at all, instead it was a communication between two friends, two ‘best’ friends who have not seen each other in such a long time that one can barely remember the other anymore.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book is actually its predictability. From the outset, you can almost sense the answer to this mystery and its ideas. You know who is who and what is what but that does not stop the reader from reading on. Very few novels can do this: the reader feels like they already know the answer but they read on not just to confirm their suspicions but also to learn more about the mystery surrounding the mystery.

The book is written as if it is being spoken to the reader or written to the reader by a teenager, which helps the reader to understand what kind of character we are dealing with. As we read the text, we feel him grow up and his speech becomes more and more passionate and mature. We feel him starting to speak more like his father and we can definitely feel the resemblance between them as the son comes closer to the answer about the world, about life and about the universe that his father poses to him over and over again.

From: Libris

The flashbacks we are given to before the illness killed the father are episodic and range from him typing to him spending time with his son. The symbolism of telescopes and stars is quite literally everywhere, as is the theme of the soul. I feel like this book was just the right length, which is unusual for me to say if the book is less than three hundred pages long. It had such a great rhythm to it that I had to be pulled away from the book as we reached our station or I might have missed it. I don’t think any of us spoke for the whole journey and I often wonder about which books they were reading and whether they wondered about mine.

All in all, this was a fantastic book that though I didn’t expect to like, I absolutely loved. It was genre-bending and just so different to anything I would consider that it has opened my eyes on to a whole new world of literature. I am truly astounded.

P.S: By the end of this book, you'll have to hold back tears...


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

Secondary English Teacher & Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

X: @AnnieWithBooks

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    Annie KapurWritten by Annie Kapur

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