What kind of book could there be about a child dying in a hospital? The first thing that comes to mind is heartbreaking. Depressed. At the very least, bitter.
But the French story “Oscar and the Pink Lady,” written 20 years ago, turned out to be surprisingly calm, bright, and even sometimes causing a smile. Of course, she is sad too, but not in a way that makes you cry after reading it, but in a way that allows you to take a deep breath and temporarily slow down the running of your vain thoughts.
So, 10-year-old Oscar is in the hospital. It's clear from the very beginning where this is going, so it wouldn't be a spoiler to say that the boy dies. Parents and the attending physician cannot find the right words and choose the appropriate line of behavior, but the social worker, an elderly nurse in a pink nursing suit, knows how to console and encourage a person even in this situation. Grandma Rosa (she has a name to match) is a former athlete, martial artist, she knows how to pull herself together and teaches her ward this. Rosa offers Oscar a game: write letters to God for twelve days, talk about your life, each day of which goes by 10 years.
And so Oscar starts from infancy, makes his way through adolescence, reaching 20 years old, he marries his girlfriend, adopts a teddy bear, and then adopts Grandma Rosa, between the ages of 40 and 50 he manages to do stupid things, and then repent, go to the hospital, grow wiser, and then become even wiser, calm down, reconcile, etc. to die a very, very old man, having lived a good, rich life.
Despite the fact that the boy seems to be turning to God, there is no religious spirit here. In this case, God is a pen pal; in his place there could be a metaphysical absolute, a spirit, a higher mind. The letters are full of colloquial words, Oscar writes as if he were talking to a friend: “God, what do you want for your birthday?”, “Bye, God, I kiss you!”, “If you cannot fulfill this wish of mine, let me know as soon as possible, I Then I’ll turn to another person.”
You can guess that it is difficult to write on such a topic without plunging into melancholy and at the same time without falling into feigned gaiety. The author, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, masterfully captures the balance, maintaining a balance of sad and bright in every line.
I cannot recommend this book to everyone, simply because the topic is not suitable for everyone. But if you don’t have any special relationship to the topic of death, I recommend it. Both adults and teenagers, if you think that your child should think about this side of life. The book is small in volume and can be read in a day or two at any reading speed. The story is beautifully written and translated, it is unusual in a good way and even, perhaps, inspiring. Illustrations by contemporary artist Nadezhda Bugoslavskaya also play towards reconciliation with the events described.Have a look.