This is an absolutely charming little book about the lockdown for COVID-19. It is told from multiple perspectives (including the two pets) as the family transitions from normality to a life at home for that extended period of time. Each perspective is authentic and well written. It’s hard to believe that four different writers (only one of which considers themselves a ‘writer’ - the others include two surgeons and a city councillor) put this cohesive piece together.
The stories follow the life and thoughts of each of the three generations with narratives that intertwine with a fluidity and a deep unbridled authenticity, despite the short structure. Of particular note is the capturing of the young Uman’s voice - so innocent and so believable. The questions that she poses and the way she thinks about the world around her is refreshingly open in a world that was so closed.
There are some religious elements included, questions about various religions and how they connect (or contrast as the case may be) but never with an agenda and typically from that innocent, childlike questioning perspective.
There’s no great action, no unexpected twists and turns, rather it’s almost like a meandering stream working its way through the generations and bringing about beauty for beauty’s sake. It’s the sort of book that is uplifting and spiritual without being preachy. Even the illustrations are uplifting and add to the jovialness of the whole endeavour.
It’s one of those books that once you start, it won’t let you put it down. Rt Hon Helen Clark writes the foreword with the line that COVID-19 “has brought about huge changes in our daily lives. Yet, it has also connected us to what is important” and this book captures that ideal.
Title: opening little boxes
Authors: kees lodder, cathay casey, manuela bertão, alex casey
Publisher: Graduate Press (imprint of Eunoia Publishing)
Publication: July 2020
Reviewer: Chris Reed, Macleans College, Auckland
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
You can buy this book here