Book Review The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen
Spanish author Pen has conjured a remarkably sad, but simply engaging story of a small boy with hope.
I almost put this back down after the first two chapters. I didn’t know what was going on at first and thought I wasn’t going to like this novel. But I held on and I am glad I did.
Imagine being born in a basement and never ever knowing anything beyond the walls of that basement. Similar to “Room” this story is of a family that lives hidden in a basement. But unlike “Room” they do it by choice – or more accurately because of choices they made before they begin living underground.
I love how the author never gives the characters in this book names. They are only “the boy”, “Dad”, “Mom”, “my grandmother”. By not personalizing these characters further, it’s easy to feel aloof to many of these characters when the author needs you to, and yet feel very engaged and empathetic to “the boy” throughout.
A set of circumstances that begin with a neglectful sister, a brain injury, an accidental murder, a coverup and then a fire bring this family to a decision to go into hiding in a basement completely closed off to the world and feigning their own deaths.
As the years go by two births happen in the basement, including the birth of “the boy”. His life unfolds knowing only a tiny slit of sunshine that comes in through a crack in the ceiling. He follows the light throughout each day and creates an imaginary world of his own in the basement. But as the years go by his curiosity grows and when he finally decides to make an escape, he learns that not all he thought he knew was true and although he is free to leave, he will forever be connected to the family in the basement.
Another book currently in the works to be a motion picture.
⭐⭐⭐⭐Four Stars for the Light of the Fireflies.