My Name Is Olivia and I Can’t Do Anything About That
Some writers think that to make a captivating story you have to come up with an ingenious plot in an exotic setting. But sometimes an original girl in an unusual situation can be even better. Olivia is that kind of girl. Her sad and humorous diary Ik heet Olivia en daar kan ik ook niks aan doen feels absolutely genuine, from cover to cover.
Olivia lives with her father John, who is a barber, on a sailing boat on a trailer in the garden behind the hairdresser’s.
The boat was Olivia’s mother’s favourite spot and, right after her cremation, they sailed it from Friesland to the big city, where Olivia’s father wants to make a fresh start. They live among piles of dirty clothes in the cabin and on the deck, where every Friday they eat a cake made from the last leftovers in the freezer.
Olivia’s dad spends a lot of time crying. His business is not going well and at the end of the summer he even forgets that Olivia has to go to school. It’s just as well that Olivia has a good head on her shoulders: she goes online and organises a place for herself in the top class at the local school, where she thinks most of the other children are stupid, but also finds a friend.
Olivia describes her blunders and experiences directly and cynically, a talent she has inherited from her mother. You can tell that she’s proud of it. ‘I had to learn how to cope with life a bit,’ Olivia says. Perhaps that’s harsh for a girl of her age, but what else can she do when everything around her refuses to return to normal? Schmitz’s debut reads like a book for girls, full of problems and tragicomic situations, yet it also has a lot more to offer. Schmitz goes beyond the dead mother, the neglectful father and the bullying. Rather than a classic ‘problem book’, this has made her story into a small work of art: a book that paints a picture of how to overcome grief that seems unbearable. Olivia is a girl you can take to your heart.