Daan Remmerts de Vries
Deep as a Swedish Lake
De diepte van een Zweeds meer (Deep as a Swedish Lake) is one of those strange stories that you slip into as a reader, as though you were playing a part in it. On the very first page, Hesther, the main character, asks what you’re expecting from the story and involves you in her thoughts. She tells you all about the summer holiday she spent in Sweden with her friend Mo and Mo’s parents.
Hesther’s precise and very witty account of the conversations between Mo’s father and mother and her critical view of their and her own parents’ relationship gives the reader a place in this group of people which you get to know well in a short time.
The two girls aren’t all that interested in boys and spend most of their time thinking up and drawing comic strips. They look down their noses at silly girls who think about nothing but their appearance and boys. In Sweden they have fun swimming, winding people up and wandering through the big, wild forest.
But when they meet a breathtakingly handsome boy in a lake, the girls discover a completely different side to themselves and to their friendship. This heartthrob, this gorgeous hunk, becomes an obsession for Hesther and Mo, driving a wedge between them. The humour and individuality of the girls gives way to dangerously strong desire. They change into scheming pains in the neck who keep a close watch on each other as their resentment builds. Things escalate until something weird happens that both girls will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Remmerts de Vries skilfully captures these two realistic teenagers, who are overwhelmed by a new phase of their lives, and sensitively conveys their humour, sadness, insecurity and loneliness. He does all of this in a natural style that is as touching and as direct as the diary of a fifteen-year-old.
By Dorine Louwerens