We hear and read a lot about mid-life crises however, what about us millennials facing an uncertain future? We hear about millennials being the first generation where we will be poorer than the preceding generation. After Labour’s ‘Education, Education, Education’ drive we all have degrees and saturating the labour market being over qualified for jobs where employers have their pick…those good times we heard about are long gone. Pay rises are frozen, buying a house is simply unobtainable and social media does its best to make us feel inadequate – in love, in art and in life. Yet, we just trundle along.
These were my thoughts when I read this exceptional second novel by Sara Baume. A Line Made By Walking follows a mid-20s woman who is struggling with adulthood. All she knows is she is lost: ‘Why do I feel as if I’m being killed when it’s the season of renewal‘ she ponders at the beginning of the novel. She hasn’t suffered a trauma in childhood or otherwise. She is just being. When trying to summarise how she is feeling to a doctor she simply states: ‘I’m just…a bit…you know…lost.‘ How many of us millennials can identify with that?
Baume’s protagonist , Frankie, escapes her bedsit in Dublin in favour of her grandmother’s bungalow who died in a ‘gloomy October…in the night…as one should” in the middle of nowhere with a born again Christian and a wind turbine for company. She stumbles across dead animals and photographs them whilst prompting herself to remember works of art relating to the triggers she sees around her from birds to whiteness. Ironically, she cannot think of an example of happiness in art. In a way, she finds herself contemplating the art of being lost throughout this novel.
Whilst this novel is not a typical story as such as there is no crescendo or ‘event’ or any resolution in fact of the protagonist’s feelings it is anything but dull. This is the first of Baume’s work I have read and her prose is utterly absorbing making the mundane feel relevant and poignant. I inhaled the 300 words within a matter of days such was the simplicity in which it is written yet the sub-text and meaning of Baume’s words will stay with me for a lot longer than that.
Every one of us millennials should read this book – we are not alone.
Thank you to William Heinemann for the ARC.
Favourite quote: ‘What I look like will not be left behind; only what I make‘
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed it!