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To Siberia

To Siberia - Per Petterson Per Petterson is such a gifted author that with the simplest of language and briefest of sentences you are somehow transported into a world of sharp images.
This poignant tale highlights the lives of a very close brother, (Jesper) and sister, only known as "sistermine", who grow up in a very rural sheltered community of Denmark under the influence of rigid, very unworldly and uneducated parents. The story is told through the eyes and voice of "sistermine". As she reminisces, the scars of the times and the war upon their lives are slowly revealed. It follows them during the time preceding World War II and continues into the post war and modern world. It illuminates how their inexperience and naivete directly effected the choices they made. At times, they seemed painfully unaware of the risks they were taking or the consequences of their behavior. The various tragedies and momentous events that occur during the novel serve to illustrate their family dynamic, disappointment and lives of hardship, as they mature and pursue their futures.
The major negative for me was that some locales and names of streets etc., were unfamiliar and I could attach no geographic location to that place in Denmark or Scandinavia. The description of the streets and places of their travels often made the reading lose momentum as I struggled with pronunciation and relevance. At that point, the impressive pictures being presented by the exceptional prose, sometimes faded.