Grow­ing old dis­grace­fully

Coastal News - - News -

On the Bright Side: The New Se­cret Di­ary of Hen­drik Groen

By Hen­drik Groen, Pen­guin Ran­dom House, $37

.. .. .. .. .. ..

I think I want to be Hen­drik when I grow up.

Hen­drick Groen is a real per­son, aged 83 and a quar­ter, liv­ing in a care home in Am­s­ter­dam. And he’s a tough old coot who won’t go qui­etly into that good night.

Hen­drik started the Old-but-not­dead club with fel­low oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans to live the rest of his life with care­less aban­don, an­noy­ing the heck out of the man­age­ment. His first book, The Se­cret Di­ary, was a hoot.

Hen­drik is dis­arm­ing, funny, ten­der. His health is go­ing and as this book opens, he’s lost the love of his age­ing life, Ee­fje, but he re­mains sharp, an­ar­chic and more than a lit­tle naughty.

It’s been a year since he main­tained his di­ary, and there’s been a few changes. Ee­fje has died, some of his co­con­spir­a­tors have moved into the de­men­tia wing, and there’s a cou­ple of new faces.

He doesn’t ig­nore the in­dig­ni­ties of age — in­con­ti­nence, shuf­fling gaits, for­get­ful­ness — but this bunch take de­light in be­ing sub­ver­sive to spice up their dull days. They also want to find out if their care home is to close and stage a coup.

Yes, death is all around them and Hen­drik is aware of it but he’s mak­ing the best of his time left. If noth­ing else, he’ll have left his mark.

Linda Thomp­son

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