Title: My Name is Olivia and I Can’t Do Anything About It
Author: Jowi Schmitz
Translator: Dave Cooper and Vincent Janssen Steenberg
Publisher: Lemniscaat – NY
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Olivia is ten years old. Her first big problem is that her mother has died. The second big problem is that her father doesn’t really know how to go on living.
Olivia and her father’s home is a small boat sitting in the garden of a barbershop. “Temporarily,” says her dad. But how long is “temporarily?” Olivia is in a new community, going to a new school, and has to figure out on her own how to grow up with the new normal of no mother and a father who is physically present but psychologically distant. Olivia is strong, though, and shores up both her home and her family with an incontrovertible sense of humor.
Smart for her age and vulnerable, brave and funny – Olivia will steal your heart.
Even though the book’s grammar was sometimes difficult to understand, (something I attribute to the translation), the story itself was intriguing. The little girl’s attitude and courage and confusion as she learns about life and people and relationships pulled me in. There was something in the defiant, brave Olivia that kept me reading even when the grammar was becoming distracting, or the story was getting boring.
I didn’t pity Olivia, which was another thing I liked about the book. Instead, I felt solidarity towards her because of how the situation was portrayed through her voice. Her misunderstandings, her ignorance, and yet her utter stubborn determination to live and to remember and still be okay, and to get her father to do the same, made me love her character and helped me in understanding her plight better – after all, I’ve never had a parent die on me, so how could I claim to truly understand?
Also, Olivia’s confusion made me angry at her father. He was so lost in his own grief, he couldn’t bother to see Olivia’s, or the fact that she only had one friend, or that she didn’t understand exactly what was going on and he couldn’t find the time to help her. I mean, the fact that he thought Olivia was ready for a new mother showed just how stupid and blind he was to his own daughter. Sasha, however, was probably my favorite character. Even though he was Olivia’s age, he seemed to understand better the depth of the situation with her father, and to know that her father would be important, even if Olivia couldn’t see it blinded by anger and grief. His role in Olivia’s recovery was great, and I loved him for it.
All in all, it was a good book. It definitely wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it’s a good MG/elementary read. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy! I really did enjoy it.