The Last Brother – by Nathacha Appanah

the last brotherThis book had incredible depths of sadness. And yet, I loved it. I’m in the habit of avoiding sad books, because they generally also fall within the category of depressing books. This book, however, beautifully presented layer upon layer of sadness while still finding hope and healing. The result is profoundly powerful and moving.

The narrator is a nine-year-old boy living on the African island of Mauritius during the 1940s. His life is overpowered by an abusive father and the senseless death of his two brothers. He has no idea that a world war is going on.

Yet when his life intersects with that of a young Jewish refugee from eastern Europe (being held in a British prison on Mauritius), these two boys – both of whom have known deep tragedy in the course of their young lives – find solace and healing in each other’s company.

The language is spare and delicate.The story has a richness and depth of human understanding that’s hard to describe. It’s a book that doesn’t shy away from the depths of brokenness in human existence, and yet it manages to find hope and beauty along the way.

sea rocks

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