Dear Fang, With Love tells the story of seventeen-year-old Vera – ravishing, troubled, wildly intelligent – who travels to Europe with her estranged father, hoping that an immersion in history might help them forget his past mistakes and her uncertain future.
Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after a decade of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera’s life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother’s homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? Skillfully weaving family mythology and Lithuanian history with a story of mental illness, inheritance, young love, and adventure, Rufi Thorpe has written a breathtakingly intelligent, emotionally enthralling book.
Dear Fang. With Love is a complex and beautifully written story of a young girl trying to make sense of the world around her whilst dealing with a myriad of issues that range from her own mental health, her difficult relationship with her Dad, her complex family history and whether or not her boyfriend is staying faithful to her whilst she is out of the country!
The letters that Vera writes to her boyfriend Fang while she is away from him give a startling insight into Vera’s thoughts and feelings and I couldn’t help but hope for a happy ending for her as I read. Vera comes across as incredibly intelligent but also very insecure and struggling to make sense of her upbringing, her parents’ relationship and her own health. Her thoughts and analysis made my head spin at times; Vera is one of the most complex characters that I’ve read in recent years and I won’t forget her easily.
This is a novel that isn’t afraid to look at hard hitting issues head on and covers mental health, rape and the holocaust in its pages but despite dark moments and topics that can’t help but bring up complex emotions, there are also lighter moments and I found Vera’s ability to tell it like it is both refreshing and funny at times.
Dear Fang, With Love is undoubtedly Vera’s story but it is also the story of her father Lucas and his were my favourite parts of the book. I enjoyed Lucas’s narrative and perspective and it was lovely to read from the point of view of a father for a change; particularly one who is trying so hard to do the best for his daughter. Lucas’s own family history is the reason he takes Lithuania for a holiday – he wants to discover the truth about his grandmother and I enjoyed how his family stories and history were woven into the plot.
Having studied history myself, the details of Lithuanian history captured my attention and I enjoyed reading about a place that I knew little about. As Vera and her parents begin to face sometimes uncomfortable truths, I was completely drawn into their story. Dear Fang, With Love would make an excellent choice for book groups to read as there are so many strong themes to debate.
Dear Fang, With Love is released in trade paperback and ebook formats on 2nd June.
I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.
Find out more about Rufie Thorpe and her writing at: http://www.rufithorpe.com/