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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Over the Rainbow

by
Solomonica de Winter


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Die Geschichte von Blue



Title: Over the Rainbow
Author: Solomonica de Winter
Genre: Novel
Written: 2014
Length: 277 pages
Availability: Die Geschichte von Blue - Deutschland
  • Though written in English, Over the Rainbow has only been published in a German translation, by Anna-Nina Kroll, as Die Geschichte von Blue, and in a Dutch translation, as Achter de regenboog

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Our Assessment:

B : decent take on young-teen inner turmoil, in extremis

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 4/9/2014 Melina Savvidou
Het Parool . 4/12/2014 Dries Muus


  From the Reviews:
  • "Ich mag die Art und Weise, wie Solomonica de Winter Stimmungen, Orte und Personen beschreibt. Besonders ihre kritische und negative Einstellung zum Leben in so jungen Jahren kann ich als Gleichaltrige sehr gut nachvollziehen. (...) Es gibt viel Gefühlsüberschwang und teen spirit. Im Ganzen aber ist Die Geschichte von Blue unglaublich cool, abgeklärt und stilsicher erzählt." - Melina Savvidou, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Zowel voor de sprookjes- als voor de thrillerelementen in Achter de regenboog grijpt de schrijfster terug op clichés die in de gemiddelde soap of kinderfilm al ietwat belachelijk zouden aandoen." - Dries Muus, Het Parool

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

[Note: This review is based on the German translation of Over the Rainbow by Anna-Nina Kroll, Die Geschichte von Blue, as it has not yet been published in the English original. The quoted passages are my translations of the German translation.]

       Over the Rainbow begins with an institutionalized girl who introduces herself as Blue -- Blue Vanity McGregor -- setting out to tell her doctor: 'the story of a thirteen-year-old girl who killed a man. And a woman' -- her story. Blue does not speak -- she essentially stopped speaking when she was eight -- but does communicate in writing, and the long first section of the novel is her account of what happened to her and what led to her now being under this doctor's care.
       When Blue was eight she suffered the traumatizing loss of her beloved father, Ollie -- killed in a foolhardy attempt to rob a bank, an act of desperation he was driven to because he owed money to loan shark James, she explains. Her mother, Daisy, moved them to Florida, where Daisy turned to drugs, and they endured five miserable years before returning to the old neighborhood. Her mother still struggles to kick the habit, and uncommunicative Blue is, at first, stuck in a special needs class at school; unwilling to talk, she remains an outcast.
       The one thing Blue clutches to is a book her father left her, The Wizard of Oz, which she carries like a security blanket and constantly tries to lose herself in. 'My book permitted me to dream', she says, and reading was her: 'only hobby, my only hope'. But she also becomes obsessed with the idea of killing James, the man responsible for all her misery. She stalks him, and works herself into a continuing sort of frenzy, obsessed by the idea of setting things right by killing him.
       Generally unable to make any meaningful connections with classmates, and constantly at odds with her overwhelmed mother, Blue is eventually befriended by a clerk at the local minimart. He happens to play the movie of The Wizard of Oz in the store, and while Blue has always avoided it, she eventually succumbs to its charms. The clerk's too: even though he is inappropriately older, she becomes deeply infatuated with him. His kind efforts to be supportive of the strange, silent girl lead to a relationship of sorts, though the suspicious, angry Blue's single-minded pursuit of James complicate even this.
       Much of this seems a bit juvenile, from how unlikely it is that Blue could be so hot on James' heels constantly and remain undiscovered, to the generally black and white characterization of most of the figures, beginning with mom Daisy. Some accept Blue for who she is, but most fail to understand her completely -- but Blue makes little effort to explain herself, he usual response being to flee the scene. If the plot -- right down to Blue getting her hands on a gun (and her mother's inadequate response to that worrisome development) and eventually pulling the trigger -- can seem far-fetched and reads more like the fantasies of a thirteen-year-old, de Winter does capture Blue's adolescent inner turmoil very well. Her The Wizard of Oz-obsession may be odd, but seems a convincing escapist crutch, and her infatuation with the store clerk and the bumbling and eventually mumbling way she deals with it at various stages feels real, too. (Her interaction with her mother, on the other hand, rarely does -- in part also because the mother doesn't feel like a very convincing figure and is the weakest link throughout the novel (including in its resolution), a figure neither Blue nor de Winter seem to know what to do with.)
       If that were all there were to it -- Blue's 'story of a thirteen-year-old girl who killed a man. And a woman'' -- then Over the Rainbow would be a workmanlike teenager's novel (at sixteen, de Winter was barely older than her protagonist when she wrote this), showing some real promise -- there are some very nicely realized bits -- but with lots of rough edges, too. But credit to de Winter, who presumably realized as much, and so that's not the whole story. The fifteen-year-old Blue concludes her narrative, but the book has two more short sections continuing the story. The first is her case file, which her doctor has put together, summarizing in a few pages her history and situation from his professional perspective. The second is a short account by Blue again, as her doctor confronts her with her past in a way she could not expect in an attempt to get her back on track.
       These two sections upend much that came before, and throw a different light on it as well. In some ways this is effective -- a neat twist -- but it also seems like just a different way of excusing whatever was unbelievable about what came before, de Winter falling back on the easiest of explanation-excuses when there was perhaps a bit more that could have been wrung out of it. In particular, The Wizard of Oz -- which, after all, also comes with its own behind-the-curtain surprises in its conclusion -- would have seemed to offer additional alternatives. It's perhaps here that the teenage author's limitations -- a lack of maturity, in her inability to see what possibilities there might be for her protagonist -- are most apparent.
       There is some canny writing in Over the Rainbow -- such as Daisy's mention of the name Madison:

Madison ... That was the name of a girl that I once knew ... When Daisy got real mad that name sometimes slipped out. Maybe to remind me that I should be more like her. To remind me of what I wasn't. To remind me of that girl that always wore clean shoes and was polite and lively ...
       Touches like that, which only resolve themselves much further along in the story, are well-placed -- but they remain touches. The full picture is, in a way, complete, yet feels like just a qualified success, with too many missing pieces to make for a truly convincing portrait of this protagonist with so much to shoulder. What de Winter presents of her -- her struggles between the ages of eight and fifteen -- is good, but there's perhaps too little foundation leading in, and certainly too little leading out.
       All in all, however, a debut showing reasonable promise.

- M.A.Orthofer, 19 September 2014

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Links:

Over the Rainbow: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Dutch literature

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About the Author:

       English-writing Dutch author Solomonica de Winter, the daughter of Jessica Durlacher und Leon de Winter, was born in 1997.

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© 2014 the complete review

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