Briefjes voor Pelle
A comforting book about a boy who receives notes from his dead father
‘It sometimes seemed like there was less and less air in the house every day,’ says 12-year-old Pelle about the claustrophobic atmosphere since his dad passed away a year ago. He wonders when grief actually comes to an end. His dad used to say his mum’s eyes were the colour of the Aegean Sea, but ‘over the past year, Mum had cried the entire Aegean empty’. But then she gives Pelle a shoebox full of notes from his dad. Every week he gets to open one and do whatever the note says.
Notes for Pelle is a moving and engaging portrait of a boy who is slowly overcoming his grief, and a story about the love between fathers and sons.
Pelle is highly gifted and has an exceptionally good memory for encyclopaedia facts. Since his dad passed away, this talent has become a survival strategy. Whenever the grief threatens to overwhelm him, he thinks about facts that don’t make him cry. The wonderful way he manages to stop his tears actually makes the reader feel the emotions all the more, without the book becoming overly sentimental, and also lends colour to Pelle’s character.
The contents of his dad’s notes vary: from a link to a video in which he teaches Pelle how to shave (sniff!) to the instruction that he should take his mum out for a meal. In this way, even after his death, he helps Pelle and his mum to pick up their lives again and to meet new people.
Slegers writes in a style that is entertaining, authentic and evocative. This, for example, is how Pelle’s mum expresses her fragile state of mind: ‘I feel a bit like a soap bubble – and I don’t want to burst again.’
The comforting message of this beautiful book is that grief doesn’t disappear, but you grow around it.