Daan Remmerts de Vries
A fascinating young scoundrel
Godje features a fascinating main character with a complex personality: the highly imaginative tearaway, Robbie Nathan, who likes to boss people around. He tells the reader all about what happens one summer when he doesn’t go away on holiday.
Together with four other boys from his village, who are also staying home, he gets up to all sorts of mischief. He bullies Japos, who is two years younger than the rest and willing to do whatever is asked of him just to belong to the gang. One evening, inspired by a film on TV, Robbie suggests going to the churchyard, where they unearth a skull. Robbie has no scruples and forces his mates to kiss the thing, starting with Japos: ‘Do as I say, dog! Otherwise we’ll shut you up in that grave’. The skull becomes his trophy. He keeps it under his bed and acts out magic games with it, in which he plays God.
Robbie initially comes over as a little nasty tyrant, more of a devil than the little god he loves to play in his megalomaniac fantasies. But he does reflect on life. He wants to experience things for real, for example, not only via a screen, like on TV. And he analyses himself and the world around him: If you really think about it, the world is terribly empty. Except for a few things, everything is unreal and false.
Robbie’s reflective side makes the story an interesting psychological portrait of a young scoundrel who still believes in something: in reality, and in the music he hears in the wind and the rain. A gripping, rich book in contemporary young language about a bully with depth.
Lieke van Duin