The Secret Place by Tana French


The boy is found dead on the grounds of the all-girls posh catholic school. The police are called, they don’t find out anything and the case gets cold. After a year a note appears on the Secret place in the school, saying “I know who killed him.” The Secret place is the bulletin board where students can pin whatever they want, things they would post on Facebook if they were allowed to use it. The Secret place was set up by the school and is monitored by the teachers.

We read the story from two points of view. What happens in the present is told by a policeman, detective Moran. His story covers the events after the card appeared. The other part of the story takes us to the time leading to the murder and is told from a perspective of a group of schoolgirls. Eventually both stories merge and I liked how they folded into one another, forming a circle.

The story has got its share of social and gender issues, but what I noticed the most was the need to conform, to fit into a mould, which isn’t a choice. It’s carved in stone. There are two groups of girls. Joanne and her friends are what other people want them to be or what the girls think other people want them to be. Holly and her friends are different; they don’t care what other people think. Whatever they do, they do it for reasons of their own, not other people’s.

Holly and her friends sneak out one night. What they experience is too different from anything else, anything forbidden, it’s all their own. It’s when magic happens. At first I didn’t know what to think about the paranormal elements like turning the lights on and off without touching the switch. Later I saw them as an indicator of the girls’ connection, strength of their group. When they are together, anything is possible. Once one of them goes out at night alone, she feels something she hasn’t felt for a long time and it takes her a moment to understand it is fear.

After the murder nothing is as it was before. Holly and her friends start arguing, picking at each other, being nasty to each other. First time in their friendship they want to get away from each other. After a while they want to go out at night again, which they couldn’t do, because the lock has been changed. It all turns into something imagined, forgotten.

There are a lot of things I didn’t mention in this post. The Secret Place is a complex novel and it’s hard to cover all issues without revealing too much. One other thing I loved is the writing and the author’s ability of evoking atmosphere. The Secret Place is the first Tana French novel I read, but it’s not going to be the last.

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V parku ob dekliški katoliški šoli najdejo umorjenega fanta. Pokličejo policijo, ki ničesar ne odkrije in čez čas se primer ohladi. Kakšno leto kasneje se na neke vrste oglasni deski, ki nadomešča prepovedani Facebook, pojavi kartonček s fantovo fotografijo in stavkom "Vem kdo ga je ubil." 

Zgodbo beremo z dveh zornih kotov, ki se med seboj izmenjavata. Dogajanje v sedanjosti pripoveduje policist, detektiv Moran. Njegova zgodba teče od trenutka, ko mu je Holly prinesla kartonček. Drugi del se dogaja kakšno leto prej, pred umorom, in ga beremo s perspektive skupine šolark. Na koncu se obe zgodbi združita in skleneta krog.

Srečujemo se s socialno tematiko, enakostjo spolov in še marsičem, vendar mi je najbolj v spominu ostala potreba po pripadanju, predalčkanju, ustrezanju pričakovanjem, ki pa ni izbira. Je obveznost, vklesana v kamen. Spremljamo dve skupini deklet. Joanne in njene prijateljice se obnašajo tako kot drugi želijo ali tako kot one mislijo, da drugi želijo. Holly in njena družba so kar so, ne zanima jih kaj si drugi mislijo. Kar  naredijo, naredijo zaradi sebe in ne zaradi drugih.

Holly in njene prijateljice se neke noči odtihotapijo ven. Izkušnja je intenzivna, popolnoma drugačna od katerega koli drugega kršenja pravil, je nekaj čisto njihovega. Od takrat se zgodi marsikaj magičnega. Sprva nisem vedela kaj naj si mislim o paranormalnih elementih zgodbe, kot na primer prižiganje in ugašanje luči, ne da bi se dotaknile stikala. Sčasoma sem magijo videla kot tisto, kar poudarja povezovalno moč njihove skupine, ko je mogoče vse. Neke noči ena od njih odide ven sama. Potrebuje nekaj časa, da prepozna čustvo, ki ga je skoraj že pozabila, kot strah.

Po umoru se stvari spremenijo, njihova vez se zrahlja in komaj čakajo, da se lahko umaknejo druga od druge. Čez čas skušajo ponoči spet oditi ven pa ne morejo, ker so medtem zamenjali ključavnico. Njihovi polnočni izleti nenadoma postanejo nekaj izmišljenega in sčasoma pozabljenega.

V tem zapisu sem veliko izpustila. Knjiga je precej kompleksna in če bi želela omeniti vse, bi povedala preveč. Zelo mi je všeč avtoričin način pisanja in njena sposobnost opisovanja atmosfere, ki jo bralec začuti, ne samo bere o njej. The Secret Place je prva knjiga Tane French, ki sem jo prebrala, gotovo pa ne bo zadnja.


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