Tuesday 30 June 2020

Free Day

Finished June 23
Free Day by Inès Cagnati, translated by Liesl Schillinger

This is a heartbreaking story. The narrator Galla is a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl who has been able to attend high school in a nearby town due to a scholarship her teacher put her down for. Her father does not support this endeavour, but her mother does to an extent. She misses Galla's help with the other children. She boards at school and returns home to visit on a regular basis. The visit on this day though is an unplanned one, and it doesn't go well.
Galla's family is poor, making a subsistence living. Her family is not accepted welcomingly in the community, and it's hard to tell whether her father's attitude is due to this or the community's behaviour is a result of his attitude. Galla is the oldest of many children, and she has often been left to look after them by her parents. Her father is prone to rages which affect everyone from his family to community members.
On this trip Galla is hoping to surprise her mother, and her story is told through memories that arise as she travels the twenty miles by bicycle to her family home in the marshes. She also talks to herself about what she sees now, about her feelings about things from her family to her situation at school where she can't even afford to purchase appropriate supplies. She deeply cares for her mother and her siblings, particularly her sisters, and this becomes clear by her actions and the memories she brings forward.
Galla's father is not welcoming to her and she is unable to see other family members on her visit, and it only becomes clear what is happening towards the end of the book.
One leaves this book with a desperate hope that Galla will be able to escape this life for a better future and bring her siblings along with her.

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