The Books

Garmann’s Secret

by Stian Hole

One Potato Review

When last we saw Garmann, he was around five, worrying about the first day of school and dead birds and dying aunts and Hannah and Johanna, the twins next door, who could hold their heads under water and read backwards and generally make you feel incompetent by comparison. What is Garmann now, ten? A flutter everywhere animates these pages, some teeming with sparrows and ladybugs and butterflies – magnificent butterflies! – some rustling with the wind through the treetops where Garmann and Johanna discover what looks like a busted-up space capsule returned from the heavens – “on our island, of all islands,” wonders Garmann, as Joanna cautiously raps its scorched metal shell with her knuckles, “Garmann’s skin tingling all the way from the top of his little finger down to the graze on his knee.” They touch hands, “a warm glow passing through his body again,” trace words with a finger across one another’s backs, go swimming in the pond (Garmann… naked? Oh, Norwegian libertines!), fix up the capsule together, and wonder in astronaut voices if God is on vacation. Johanna, remember, was one of those noxious identical twins from several summers ago, but was she really, was she ever? You’d have to look closely, which just happens to be Garmann’s superpower, though he’d probably be reluctant to admit it: Even amid the schoolyard riot of shouting faces and whizzing skateboards and soccer balls and tottering seesaws, Garmann is straightaway visible for his incandescent watchfulness. He’s the busiest kid on the page. Collecting, and dreaming of other worlds, though never so much as imagining that anyone would want to fly there with him, until one day, suddenly, they do.

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