Sometimes when you see a cover, you come away with an idea that turns out to be completely different from what's hidden inside. Looking at the cover of Mathilda Savitch and scanning the cover blurb containing the word "hilarious", I was expecting a somewhat 'light' novel.
Mathilda Savitch is told entirely from Mathilda's point of view and in her voice. She lives with her parents. She had a sister, Helene, but she was killed by a unknown man who was never apprehended.
"I have a sister who died. Did I tell you this already? I did but you don't remember, you didn't understand the code....She died a year ago, but in my mind sometimes it's five minutes. In the morning sometimes it hasn't even happened yet. For a second I'm confused, but then it all comes back. It happens again."
The first anniversary of that death is approaching. Nothing has been the same since Helene's death. Mathilda's mother is fading away, self medicating with alcohol and cigarettes. Her father keeps up appearances, but he too is lost, simply going through the motions.
"Lately I've noticed Da is starting to disappear. He's basically following Ma, but where is she even going?" "People are funny around us, Ma and Da and me. They don't want to get too close to the curse of the Savitches."
Mathilda decides that the solution is to simply catch the murderer.
What follows is the heartbreaking story of a young girl trying to put her family back together after an unthinkable tragedy. It is also a coming of age story and much more. This is Victor Lodato's first novel. But what a first novel! Mathilda is by turns a quirky, prickly, angry and yes - funny little girl struggling with feelings and situations bigger than herself. I am amazed by the voice Lodato has given Mathilda. She fairly leapt off the page. Lodato's description of a grief stricken family and their anguish is gut wrenching. A very different novel and highly recommended.