Published: 25 August 2016
In this collection, meet:
Guillaume, who gives up everything to protect his child; young Matthew, who stakes his life to save his home; and François, who makes the biggest sacrifice to rescue his grandson.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Indrajit Garai has written a collection of short stories that surprised me in their simplicity and their truth. These stories are fantastical and they’re not always pretty. There’s a bit of harshness to each of them, but there is also goodness that speaks to the people there are in the world that aren’t as bad as some. Reading each story, I took away something that, while not always happy, was important.
This story, of Guillaume and his dairy farm suffering against bigger, industrial farms and cattle blight, hit home the most of all the stories. I live in a rural area and there are several farms around here that mean a lot. They’re not dairy farms, rather agricultural ones, but it still hits home because these are not large properties. The one I grew up across the street from was up for sale last year and I remember how much fear the town had that it would be sold to developers. While not my family’s property, growing up with it made me sympathize with Guillaume and his son, Hugo.
The struggles that Guillaume went through in an effort to save his farm and provide a life for Hugo were heartbreaking. He fought so hard and while there is a bit of light at the end, the journey to get there had me cursing at some secondary characters!
There were some plot lines that didn’t quite finish up for me, such as what happened to Hugo’s mother, and other’s that I wasn’t 100% sure of (Guillaume and Anais had a past, yes, and there’s a chance that Louis, Anais’s son, is his, but their “resolution” felt funny to me, especially since Anais had been married for quite awhile by then). Also, there were some errors in the language, a few missing words for grammatical accuracy or typos that were spelled correctly but were obviously the wrong word, that took me out of the story from time to time.
Matthew was an admirable character who stood up for what he believed in more than a lot of adults I know. The tree in a nearby plot of woodland, more home to him than the apartment he and his mum share, is at risk of being chopped down for furniture and he does as much as he can to save “her”.
There were some storylines with this short piece that felt a bit underdeveloped, like why Matthew and his mum have a damaged relationship (alluded to but not explained) or Matthew’s friendship with Jerome, a fellow student and a foster child in a care home. The story was able to carry-on without these resolutions, but felt lacking.
There were also one term I didn’t understand and had to look up: children’s center. From what I could make out, in France it’s like American day care, but having to look it up took me out of the story. I couldn’t understand how Matthew’s mum could drop him off there for weeks at a time because the way it sounded in the story, it sounded like an odd children’s hotel, which wasn’t in line with the setting/story.
Francois was a brilliant man, trying his best to provide for his grandson. They’ve both had tragedy in their lives, particularly relating to Francois’s daughter/Arthur’s mother. However, despite that, they both went toward the rest of their lives with quite a bit of strength. Francois did everything he could, even though he was 62, to provide a roof for Arthur, even accepting charity food and clothes from the church, which can be difficult to do. Arthur, in turn, was doing his best to help his grandfather: reading his book and giving him notes, studying hard in hopes of winning a scholarship at school.
The ultimate tragedy that befalls these two characters was heartbreaking, after all I’d been through with them via the text. There were some reliefs at the end, though I’m not entirely sure that Arthur would see them that way. In the end, he’d rather have his grandfather than anything.
There were some confusing matters that I wasn’t sure about after reading The Sacrifice. Though they didn’t detract from the story overall, as such, they gave me pause and had me wondering what was going on. Instance one, Francois believes that Arthur is his only legal heir after the death of his daughter, but Arthur believes that there are relatives in Brittany that would inherit anything; which was true? Instance two: who are these people that Arthur is staying with after the death of Francois? Their relationship, and why Arthur is with them, confused me.
While there were a few linguistics errors that made the text feel rough, the stories and the people within them remained interesting. There was strength and sadness, moments of joy and of tragedy. Garai’s stories are of human interest and are written with them in mind. There’s seemed to be a knowledge that, even if we work our hardest, sometimes things don’t end happily. And then again, there are times, the times worth hoping for, that do.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.