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The Childhood of Jesus

childhood of jesusOK, a strange book and a strange story.  I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it.  It’s a hard book to write about with any sense of clarity…

Simon and David cross a body of water, lose their memories while crossing it, and come to a new land where they are given new identities and are learning the new language (which happens to be Spanish).  Simon has taken charge of David, a young boy with no memories of his parents.  In this new land no one questions anything; they don’t look for better ways to live, to work, to love.  They simply exist, content but not happy, doing but never striving.

Simon still has enough recall to struggle with this new attitude, but once they are settled with clothing, a place to live, and a job he sets about trying to find David’s mother.  Seemingly randomly he chooses a young woman, Ines, to be David’s mother and she accepts.  Simon gives the boy over to her and she shuts David off from the rest of the world – while indulging his every whim.

David is a bright boy – teaching himself to read and numbers – but refuses to perform in school.  While David may be brilliant in his own way, and certainly lives in his own world, he is also largely a spoiled brat and no one seems to require appropriate behavior, or even expect it.  While Simon doesn’t understand David and his ways, he seems to accept them, and Ines is completely indulgent.  Personally, I wanted to ground him, send him to his room, take away his toys, something!  When the school threatens to send him away to a special school, Ines enlists Simon’s help and they escape, headed towards an unknown destination.

Title: The Childhood of Jesus
Author: J.M. Coetzee
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 288
Publication:  Viking Adult, September 2013

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