The hard facts:
Author: Peter Høeg
Publisher: Picador (2007)
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Peter, an orphan and, at twelve years old, petty criminal, who has spent his childhood at different state institutions, is sent to attend Biehl's private school in Kopenhagen after an incident at his last home. There, he meets two other students, Katharina and August, who, like himself, seem not to fit into this rather expensive private school. At Biehl's, time dictates everything and all students are under constant supervision. Personal contacts are frowned upon and suppressed. Nevertheless, Peter manages to exchange letters with Katharina, who lost her parents through cancer and suicide. August, they learned, is also an orphan, who shot his abusive parents. The more they observe their environment at school and special treatment through therapists and isolation, the more they suspect an ulterior motive. Peter and Katharina are caught twice exchanging information and they are put under even closer supervision. After their third exchange has been noticed, they are separated completely and Peter is set to be sent away from school. During a desperate attempt to flee with August, who is held at the infirmary of the school and has refused to eat for weeks, August is killed by his attempt to set the school on fire. Peter is removed and loses all contact with Katharina, who most likely dies soon after. Peter manages to get adopted by extorting a letter of recommendation from Mr. Biehl, the founder and principal of the school. As an adult, he again takes up the investigation on what had happened at Biehl's private school that took the lives of two of his closest friends in life.
Time is the central motif in this book. I have to admit, it is much different from "Smilla", more philosophical and less story. During the first 50 pages or so I contemplated to quit and take on another book, but felt as if I had come too far to give up. And soon after, the book truly sucked me in. Not in the way "Smilla" did, but the remaining 200 pages just flew by. It offered a lot of theories to meditate on, circling around "time". I can definitely recommend this book for any book club, since it offers plenty of topics to discuss. It is definitely not meant for easy and casual entertainment.
Disclaimer: This review reflects my own opinion only. I found the book in the remains of Richard's library and was not compensated by Amazon.com, Scholastic, Inc., the author, or any other party. I would gladly review books sent to me. If you are interested in having me write a review for you, please refer to my Sponsorship/Disclosure-section for information.