Johnny Griffin was nearly twelve and his brother, Tom, was ten. They lived in Dublin, with their parents and their sister. They were two ordinary boys. And they were being very ordinary the day their mother made the announcement.
They were in the kitchen, doing their homework. It was raining outside, and the rain was hammering on the flat roof of the kitchen. So they didn’t hear their mother’s key in the front door and they didn’t hear her walking up the hall. Suddenly, she was there.
I picked up Wilderness by Roddy Doyle at the library, in the Italian translation by Giuliana Zeuli. I had read somewhere it was a YA book, and I'm always curious about YA literature. However, the Italian translation is being marketed as a book for adults. I probably wouldn't have picked it up but for the sentence on the cover, "Roddy Doyle is a genius"-J.K.Rowling. If JKR likes this it can't be too bad, I thought.
This is a novel about "mothers lost and found", says the book jacket. Grainne is an eighteen-year-old Irish girl with si much anger inside. Her mother abandoned when she was just a baby and when to live in New York. Her father has remarried with Sandra and had had other two boys, Johnny and Tom. The relationship between Sandra and Grainne is particularly strained.
One day Grainne learns that her long-lost mother is coming back to Ireland to visit. The meeting, however, will go differently than how she expects. In the meantime, in order to give Grainne some space, Sandra and the boys leave for Finland to go on an "adventure holiday" in the snow. The boys are happy and excited. But when one evning their mother goes missing in the snow, they will have to take a brave, tough decision.
The two stories - Grainne's, and Johnny and Tom's - are told in parallel, in alternating chapters with very non-committal titles, like "In the forest", "In the kitchen, "At the airport" etc. The narrating style is very simple and direct in the parts in Johnny and Tom's point of view while it is slightly more complicated and mature in the parts told from Grainne's perspective.
I have to be honest: I'm not a fan of adventure tales. I was much more interested in Grainne's story than in the "adventure holiday". But this was a good book all the same.