Author: Rufi Thorpe
Title: Dear Fang, With Love
Pub Date: May 24th, 2016
Exceptional story. Something new, fresh and different. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story captures so many issues and aspects of human life. Father and daughter trip to Vilnius, Lithuania. The father, Lucas was crazy in love with Kat, Russian girl that he met in a school, when still young they made a baby (“Let’s make a baby, baby”). With pregnant Kat, they went to live on a commune of free-living hippies, working on a farm. That was too much for a young Lucas, who called his mother and eventually disappeared from Kat, and his daughter lives. But now, year and years later he is working on his father – daughter relationship. The girl, Vera is seventeen, is a very insightful and unusual teenager. She has a psychotic breakdown, and is diagnosed with bipolar, but she’s’ refusing to accept this diagnosis. Those two are setting on a history tour of Easter Europe, where they can revisit the history of Jews – Vera is a Jew, and history of Lucas’ grandmother Sylvia that survived the war and spent some time in Vilnius and later in Poland.
Vilnius is presented beautifully in the story; its history is affecting all the characters in the book in its way. Vera is incredibly moved by the story of Great Synagogue that was demolished, and on which place now stands a kindergarten. Meeting with geologist shows a new perspective on Lucas’ family history and stories told by his mother. There is a bunch of fascinating people also on the history tour that brings something new to the main characters, help us understand them better.
Vera’s voice is especially intriguing, her emails to her boyfriend, and Word documents are sometimes funny, sometimes chaotic or impulsive. They show very well how she feels and how her mood changes throughout the trip to Vilnius. The more prominent voice is Lucas’. He is struggling with his thoughts, with his family history, with being a father to Vera, with being liked by Vera, with a lack of love in his life, with his love for Kat, with never finishing his dissertation, with never feeling enough.
I very often felt connected to the story, to the thoughts of the characters. I loved how Vilnius was presented, and now I need to go there! It is an unusual story and something that was just right up my alley. Also, I tend to respond well to books that mention Poland, or Easter Europe, or in this case, Polish poet Czesław Miłosz.