Book Review: You Have Me to Love by Jaap Robben

Boekenweek (translated to "book week") is an annual celebration of books and reading recognized specifically in Belgium and...

Boekenweek (translated to "book week") is an annual celebration of books and reading recognized specifically in Belgium and the Netherlands. The event takes place every spring and this year marks the 84th annual Boekenweek celebration. For 2019, the weekly celebration will be recognized during the week of March 23 to 31 in the Netherlands, and April 1 to 7 in Belgium.

In partnership with World Editions, I recently read two translated from Dutch novels - You Have Me to Love and The Woman Who Fed the Dogs.

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with "love" in the title

TW: graphic sexual acts, sexuality in relation with children, animal cruelty

Y'all, I had this weird creeping feeling the entire time I was reading You Had Me to Love, and my intuition was certainly right. There was some weird stuff going on in this book, and it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. But not in the way I felt uncomfortable with All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (which made me feel uncomfortable, but was a beautifully written, terribly sad and amazing book). This one just made me feel icky and I wasn't totally sure the direction the book was trying to take.

The novel starts with Mikael, a 9 year-old who's father disappears into the water one day when they're both out on the beach. After weeks of searching, his father is nowhere to be found. Mikael holds an incredible guilt, which forces him both further away from his mother while forcing him closer to her, as well. 

Within part one of the novel, I was fairly intrigued, but I was also immediately thrown off my the timeline in the story. I couldn't tell how much time had passed, and it truly only become worse. Mikael was 9, then he had a mustache. I couldn't quite keep up with the plot's timeline. It was ultimately just really confusing to me.

"There wasn't much weight to life. In fact, it weighed nothing at all." -Jaap Robben, You Have Me to Love

The writing was truly poetic throughout, which is an ode to both the author and the translator. But the novel was also incredibly dark, but not like a traditional thriller - instead it was a sickening type of dark that crawled up under your skin and made you itch in an unscratchable way. I couldn't quite move past that dark and icky feeling.

I knew the direction the book was taking the entire time, but there was no twist or big reveal. And overall, I felt the intention of the story was very lost. I didn't really get where it was trying to go. I understood the issues of mentality unraveling, but overall I wasn't sure what else the story was trying to deliver to the reader, and that was incredibly frustrating to me.

I obviously wasn't a fan of this one.

Goodreads rating: ★★☆☆☆

*I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

You Might Also Like