I came across many books that talk about pain and grief, and I enjoy reading books like these because it exposes me to my own pain. Masochistically, it’s my way of coping. However, I have never connected with a book the way I’ve connected with Maude Julien’s The Only Girl in The World.
She tells her story how she remembers it. I find it fascinating how she can relive such nightmares and write them all down so boldly. I on the other hand, hide behind poetry that subtly relay my emotions and even denying myself a journal that would honestly portray my feelings and thoughts.
“I feel as if my whole life is just one and the same day,
An arid, endless, merciless day.
I’m chained to my schedule like an ox to a cart.
I pull with all my strength, but I don’t understand,
Or think, or ask any questions.
I hardly even breathe.”
The book is about Maude’s childhood in the hands of her father’s ideals and expectations. Much like every one of us has had to endure, she tries her best to become a good daughter. Following every instruction obediently even without the slightest appreciation. For years, she has lived in a world without love, hope and all the good things life has to offer. Yet she knows compassion, empathy, and hope like I’ve never seen in anyone before.
She was told how cruel the world is, how people are full of treachery. She herself experiences the cruelty of mankind even in isolation. For the first time, I grabbed a pen and wrote the truth:
I am just like you.”
Maude is trained with ridiculous ways to overcome mankind’s weaknesses. Fear in particular. She is locked up in the cellar randomly at night with rats scurrying on her feet –cold and afraid, a mere child. She was taught Latin, German, arithmetic; she was forbidden to show any emotion on her face , a mere child.
“The earth is full of weak, cowardly people
driven to treachery by their weakness and cowardice.”
I went in reading this book blind. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even read the plot, and for this reason I refuse to write a summary of the plot in this book review. You must read it without knowing what to expect. You must submerge yourself in cold water, the way she has done.
I am amazed at her tight grasp of hope, and in turn it gives me the same knowledge. It lets me know that even in the darkest places, you can still see. You can still find the exit and run towards the life you want.
“Life is stronger than anything else,
There is always a solution, and I will find it.
I’m sure of that.”