Author: Heather O’Neill
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Publication Date: May 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Nineteen years old, free of prospects, and inescapably famous, the twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay are trying to outrun the notoriety of their father, a French-Canadian Serge Gainsbourg with a genius for the absurd and for winding up in prison. “Back in the day, he could come home from a show with a paper bag filled with women’s underwear. Outside of Québec nobody had even heard of him, naturally. Québec needed stars badly.”
Since the twins were little, Étienne has made them part of his unashamed seduction of the province, parading them on talk shows and then dumping them with their decrepit grandfather while he disappeared into some festive squalor. Now Étienne is washed up and the twins are making their own almost-grown-up messes, with every misstep landing on the front pages of the tabloid Allo Police. Nouschka not only needs to leave her childhood behind; she also has to leave her brother, whose increasingly erratic decisions might take her down with him.
I really enjoyed Heather O’Neill’s newest novel. O’Neill has such a distinct voice and style as an author, when you read this book it’s so apparent that this is the same author as Lullabies for Little Criminals. And just as in Lullabies, O’Neill hits it out of the park with her complex characterization, her often brutal openness, and her intimate exploration of self-discovery. Narrated by Noushka Trembley, it’s a story of growing up, finding individuality, and the struggles of family.
Noushka is very reminiscent of Lullabies‘ Baby, although quite a few years older. It was hard not to draw comparisons between the two because both come from difficult/broken families, both are growing up in a world that favours the wealthy and educated, and both are trying to understand themselves as they transition into adulthood. If you connected with Lullabies, you’ll connect with this one as well.
Noushka, I haven’t mentioned yet, is a twin. She and Nicolas, her brother, have an almost too intimate relationship. They perceive themselves one and the same, at least in the beginning. But as they grow, they find love and drift apart. How does one come to know one’s place in the world growing up with a second half? Time and time again, they cannot find their way alone. Their relationship is both loving and hostile as they try to find a balance between loving one another so completely and hating one another so fully. They are attached as brother and sister, as twins, and as abandoned siblings finding a mentor and companion in the each other. Their relationship is endearing, frightening, and heart-wrenching. They are two people seeking love with a desire not to be alone in a harsh and cruel world.
It is a story of growing up and of finding happiness in life, even if life doesn’t always deal you the best cards. It’s about finding those you can trust and count on, and letting go of those you can’t. And it’s about responsibility and about taking control of your life to get where you want to be.
I want to share a quote with you so you can get a glimpse of O’Neill’s beautiful writing style. It’s these magical passages along the way that have you head over heals for her work.
” The neighbour was beating her Indian carpet violently with a broom. One of the birds burst off the pattern adn flew into the air. It circled around my head and went down the street toward the rive. I followed after it and the crew went sadly back to their van.” (55)
I definitely recommend this one. Do you have a favourite line or paragraph from The Girl Who Was Saturday Night? I’d love to hear your thoughts!