In my Father’s House – Ingegerd Henriksen

Norwegian title: I min fars hus

Hi book friends!

This book really hit me. I’ve never read anything quite like it, both in good ways and bad ways. This book will stay with me for quite some time. Thank you Juritzen Forlag for sending it to me! The synopsis is translated by me from the book:

Catharin is five years old and should have been a happy child. Her dad is a priest, and her mother is a beautiful nurse. Something’s isn’t right within the four walls of the house. Catharin is afraid that she won’t live to see her sixth birthday. Can none of the grownups around her see what’s happening?

This is a powerful story about child abuse. The story is unique because it’s written from a child’s perspective in the simple and naive way that only a child can tell a story. This story will seize you and the difficult parts will be overshadowed by your need to continue reading.

This story is so honest and horrible. In Norway there is a saying that says; You get the truth from children and drunk people. This fits very well with this book. It is difficult for me to explain this book’s story without spoiling anything, so I’ll try explaining how it made me feel. During the first few pages, I was horror-struck by what I was reading. It’s true what the synopsis says, you really can’t stop reading this book even though you are so disgusted. I have never read a book that speaks about abuse in the way this one does. It is honest, clear, and loud. The writing style is simple and straight forwards with short chapters and easy, but very good language. In this book, I felt that the writing style had a lot to do with how the message was conveyed to the reader. The writing is done carefully and very thorough, and it was done in the absolute best way possible! Top marks there!

The characters really make this book. Catharin is the sweetest child who just does what a child is supposed to do, asking questions, learning things, but she is punished for it because her parents want her to be something she isn’t, a grownup. The book is placed in the 1950-60’s if I’m not mistaken and I know that etiquette and the way of raising children were different back then, but children still have to be allowed to be children. Catharin has her own mind and it’s very grown-up for a five-year-old. Her thoughts, reasoning, and description of certain episodes are just heartbreaking to read. She tries to reach out and explain in her own way that she is afraid of her dad, that she doesn’t want to be alone with him, and that things aren’t normal within the four walls of their house, but people either look the other way or doesn’t believe her. Yet, she is happy in her own ways when she is allowed to and tries to be a good girl for her parents and make them proud of her. She has a beautiful way to look at the world which is open and honest, and this gave me some comfort while I read the book. Somehow it gave me hope that she would be OK in the world despite everything.

I quickly lost count of how many times Catharin’s father disgusts me. How a person can be so malicious, evil, cruel (I know these are synonyms, but I need to fill out the amount of bad man here), and double-standard is beyond me. I think to me personally, the absolute worst thing about this vermin of a man, is that he belongs to the church. It has to be pointed out that I don’t generally dislike people who choose a life within a religion or who choose to believe in something greater in this world. Caharin’s father the worst kind of man in my opinion. The way he treats the people who love him and people around him, in general, is despicable. Catharin’s mother seems to be the kind of woman who didn’t really stand up to her husband. She gives the impression that she is proud of Catharin, except when Catharin isn’t pleasing her or her father. Although a trained nurse, she doesn’t seem to or chooses not to, see the signs of what’s going on in her own home. Whatever would the world outside say if they knew? Catharin’s mother tries to be a good wife and mother, but her husband is making either very easy. The destiny of Catharin’s mother is shared by a lot of women, and men, around the world, and I think that is really horrible. Nobody deserves to be treated like dirt by the person who has made a promise to stand by them ’till death do us part’.

What strikes me with Catharin’s parents, besides the poor family environment, is that even though they seem to be small-minded when it comes to people below their standard, Catharin doesn’t seem to pick up on it. This gives us some beautiful and fun episodes throughout the book, and they are small sunshine stories in what seems to be a very dark world.

Like I said, this book is going to stay with me for a long time, and I’m not likely to forget this story. It has really given me food for thought and it has made me appreciate my childhood with my amazing parents even more than I already do. A good, proper, and safe childhood is not something that is guaranteed in the world we live in today! This book was just released in Norway, hence it has not been translated to any other language yet. I hope it will soon because this is a story that needs to be spread beyond the borders of the Norwegian language!

Published: 2018

Genre: Novel

Theme: Abuse, family, religion

– The Book Reader

Bilderesultat for i min fars hus

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