Lullaby by Leïla Slimani
Published: January 4th 2018 by Faber & Faber
Genre: Fiction, thriller, contemporary
The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.
I don’t know how many books I’ve read that has a blurb that reads “The next Gone girl!” and let me start off by saying: this is not that! I don’t know why they would try to diminish this book into a thriller copy when it reads so beautifully between it’s own covers.
(Don’t get me wrong, I loved gone girl, but I’m also capable of loving books that is not another gone girl.)
This book follows a family of four that hires a nanny to take care of the children as both parents are working. They have seemingly found the perfect woman and an interdependent relationship ensues. But how well do we really know the people we let into our lives?
This is not a mystery. We know what happens from the very beginning. There are no twists and turns to shock you. The beauty of the book lies in the unfolding of the “how” this could happen. It lies in our humanity and how we live, how we lash out and how we hide.It is more subtle and tender as it all unravels and just like in life, we work in hindsight of what we could have done differently.
I’ve lived in Europe and I’ve lived in Asia, and I’ve experienced having a nanny and hiring one. With Asian eyes and a European mindset. The tension between two people living together, someone who becomes part of the family, but at the same time is paid for services, is something nearly impossible to describe. But this book does it so well. I cringed at the uncomfortable suspicions that you don’t want to have towards the person you leave alone with your loved ones. It’s a balance so delicate that just looking at it can cause it to tumble and change your whole life. Only someone who’s experienced it can truly know how that feels.
In the end, there is a lot of room for interpretation. The book does not tie everything up in a neat bow and serve you. The loose ends are everywhere, but to me that didn’t matter. You don’t always get all your questions answered in life and some answers just aren’t there. If you told me that it was a true story I would have no problem believing it. That’s how real it felt to me. It knew and spoke of trying to hide struggles, it knew of feelings of the multicultural and culture differences. It observed its surroundings so well and it wasn’t seen through rose colored glasses.
If you can appreciate a story told in an eerie melancholy way, without the pomp and circumstance, then run towards this one. If you need the action in the twists and turns, then go read gone girl again. It’s the only gone girl, that will ever be gone girl.