Growing up is not exactly easy, as every teenager knows. And there are many things children do not understand and adults think they do understand, too many experiences that only fall into place when the child has become an adult.
When something happens during your childhood that is horrible to understand, it is even more difficult to find your way and learn how to deal with that.
In 1989, in Baton Rouge in Louisiana young Lindy was raped. Nobody knows who did it, but there are many suspects. The criminal neighbor’s son, a weird neighbor and his stepson and the main character, who was only 14 at the time of the attack.
The reason he is a suspect is because he was obsessively in love with Lindy at the time. In the years that follow he tries everything he can to get closer to Lindy, although he never really gets to know her.
The rape, how horrible it was, is not the main theme in this novel. It is only the starting point for our main character to become an adult.
My sunshine away is about growing up, loss, the pain of your first love, coping with your own grief and the grief of others and quilt and trying to make up for past mistakes.
Beautifully and insightful it becomes clear how the innocence of childhood is replaced by knowing, although knowing is never the same as understanding. Add to that the fact that teenagers are full of hormones and usually only obsessed with their own lives and it is no wonder communication is so difficult sometimes. When do we ever really listen to eachother?
I loved the way the Louisiana Summer was described, I felt the heat and saw the azaleas in bloom and the many mosquitoes. When we learn in the last pages why the boy, who was only 14 at the time, did what he did, we understand.
M.O. Walsh knows the South, he studied in Mississippi and now works at the university of New Orleans, where he teaches Creative writing. My sunshine away is his debut novel, but in my opinion a very good debut.
The story is written and composes very well. The story never becomes boring and there is not a scene too many. Some events return later, only in a different light and certain threads return, only in a different connection.
When I finally knew who the main character is telling his story to, I was touched.
In short, I will certainly look out for a new book by M.O. Walsh and I hope there will be many.
Published in 2015