I’ve never been a fan of North American literature for teens. It lacks intelligence. Especially, in recent years…if I see one more book that involves vampires or werewolves; over-the-top, special-effect-type drama; situations that wouldn’t happen in real life…well, I don’t know, I suppose my head will explode or something. Luckily, there are alternatives.
“Adieu mes quinze ans” is a book for teens that I first read when I was 7 or 8 years old and I’ve loved it ever since. I’ve guarded it fiercely in my (unfortunately) reduced book collection all these years and return to it regularly. It is a book that involves mystery, but it unfolds gently, with honesty, tenderness, intelligence and respect for its characters and reader. Within the first chapter, the reader is drawn into the story….
Fanny is 15 years old, attends a Lycee 7 km from her home and takes care of her 20-year-old brother, William (who works as a carpenter), and their grandfather (a retired sailor), whom they call Captain. They live simply, in a town called Fauvembergues; in a house they call Sundial, a small part of the property that used to be owned by local gentry.
One day, Captain invites a Norwegian girl to live with them, but is elusive about why. Fanny becomes worried about the changes this stranger will bring to the peaceful home. Right away, it seems to Fanny that Ingvild may take over everything she loves. Including Yann, a young man who is new to their town and has slowly become a part of their family. Seems like everyone is captivated by Ingvild. Especially, Yann.
And, then, there’s that letter from Yann’s mother that questions his decision to stay in Fauvembergues…”wouldn’t you do better to give up your search altogether? There’s nothing but disappointment waiting for you my boy. I told you that that man was only informed about certain…” And that’s all.
It seems that only the Captain and Yann know what’s going on.
All that Fanny knows is that something very profound has been set in motion. Something that needs to be handled with care and that will change her and Sundial in unexpected ways.