Sunday Herald Life - - BOOKS REVIEWS - By Alas­tair Mab­bott

Yuki Chan In Brontë Coun­try by Mick Jack­son (Faber & Faber, £7.99) With very lit­tle English at her com­mand, Yuki has come to Bri­tain from Ja­pan, osten­si­bly to visit her Lon­don-based sis­ter, but the real pur­pose of her jour­ney is to re­con­nect with her late mother, who vis­ited Brontë coun­try 10 years ear­lier. Yuki makes an en­dear­ing fish out of water, fix­ated on retro vi­sions of the fu­ture and filling up note­books with de­signs for new in­ven­tions. She sees her­self as a de­tec­tive fer­ret­ing out the truth be­hind her mother’s death, and one can’t help ad­mir­ing her re­solve as she makes a very touch­ing pil­grim­age, vis­it­ing the same places and recre­at­ing the pho­tos her mother took. Her in­ves­ti­ga­tions have led her down some es­o­teric paths, which turn out to be cen­tral to the story. Bri­tain seen through Yuki’s eyes is ex­otic and strange, and per­haps it’s that sense of dis­tance that en­ables Booker-nom­i­nated Mick Jack­son to evoke the

York­shire coun­try­side so vividly as he chron­i­cles her voy­age of dis­cov­ery.

Mir­ror, Shoul­der, Sig­nal by Dorthe Nors (Pushkin Press, £10.99) Now in her 40s, Sonja is go­ing nowhere fast. She trans­lates the nov­els of a pop­u­lar Swedish crime au­thor, the only thing any­one seems to find in­ter­est­ing about her. She has an in­ner ear con­di­tion that causes dizzy spells. And her sis­ter can’t even be both­ered talk­ing to her. Sonja’s driv­ing lessons pro­vide a metaphor for her frus­trated life. Mir­ror, Shoul­der, Sig­nal is an ex­am­i­na­tion of what it feels like to be stuck, with Sonja ca­pa­ble of long­ing for the days when she could hide out in a field of rye on her par­ents’ farm, but un­able to pic­ture a fu­ture, let alone work out a way of get­ting there. It’s an in­sight­ful and com­pas­sion­ate novel, in which Dorthe Nors is less in­ter­ested in driv­ing the nar­ra­tive for­ward to a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion than in lin­ger­ing over the de­tails of a stalled life.

A Mother’s Reck­on­ing by Sue Kle­bold (WH Allen, £8.99) In April 1999, at Columbine High School, Eric Har­ris and Dy­lan Kle­bold killed 12 stu­dents and one teacher, wound­ing 24 oth­ers, be­fore turn­ing their guns on them­selves. In this har­row­ing mem­oir, Kle­bold’s mother, Sue, writes of an ex­pe­ri­ence the rest of us could barely imag­ine: her in­com­pre­hen­sion at how her son could have done such a thing; the tidal wave of hate she faced; how it took seven years for her “to emerge from the fog” of grief and find pur­pose in her life. She ends with a laud­able plea for greater un­der­stand­ing of men­tal health is­sues in young peo­ple. Nev­er­the­less, there are many in­di­ca­tions her faith in her par­ent­ing meth­ods blinded her to the pos­si­bil­ity Dy­lan might do any­thing de­struc­tive, and the in­dul­gent at­ti­tude she con­tin­ues to show towards him sug­gests she is still a long way from fac­ing up to what hap­pened.

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