Oma’s rommelkamer (Grandma’s Junk Room) by Bette Westera is an intimate book about the strong bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Sofia and Grandma are the best of friends and they both have a great time on the regular occasions when Sofia comes to stay for the night.
Grandma is becoming forgetful and this is really upsetting her, partly because her daughter keeps confronting her about it. After a broken leg and a period of considerable resistance from both grandmother and granddaughter, Grandma ends up in the Rozengaarde old folks’ home. Sofia finds this hard to come to terms with, but realises that it doesn’t mean the end of her warm relationship with her grandmother.
The box full of memories that Sofia has ‘rescued’ from her grandmother’s house forms a bridge between the past and Grandma’s new life. Westera has Sofia get to know other residents of Rozengaarde so that we as readers, and Sofia herself, are prepared for the fact that a relationship is still possible even if the situation worsens. One of Sofia’s observations is indicative of the tone of the book: ‘The more things you forget, the more surprises you have.’ Sofia’s mother doesn’t come out of the book very well.
She doesn’t understand much about either her own mother or her daughter. Most of all she wants to ‘sort everything out properly’, which actually means walking all over other people’s feelings. Fortunately, Sofia’s father has more understanding of the fact that ‘forgetting’ is a relative concept and that it can actually have its good points when things don’t go entirely according to plan. Westera writes sincerely, with original observations and humour.
Her vivid writing style ensures that every reader is perfectly able to imagine his or her own Sofia and Grandma. Oma’s rommelkamer is Bette Westera’s best book yet.
Wendy de Graaf