Moment of Honesty
Nominated to the Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis 2008!
“By the way, did you know that the Munch museum is the number one meat market in Oslo, for certain people?” I ask.
“Oh yeah? What certain people is that, then?”
“Boys. Your age. They tell a girl that they’re passionately into art, and take her to the Munch museum. Rather cheap fun, costs about as much as the movies. The girl thinks she has met a really deep and sensitive guy, and after that, she’s up for anything. Clever, don’t you think?”
When she is seventeen, Frida is diagnosed with a serious eye disease. Desperate, her mind reeling, she spends the evening of the day she receives this devastating news walking aimlessly about the streets of Oslo. Driven by an intense desire to see the world before blindness overcomes her, she decides to travel. To see the world’s beauty – before it is too late.
In Florence she meets Jakob, who, like herself, is Norwegian. A self-proclaimed art-geek, he is in Florence to write an article for a Norwegian youth magazine. He wants to write about how the Crucifixion is depicted in art, to show how art history has evolved over the centuries. One of the questions he discusses in his article is why the Crucifixion, which has been painted by most of the world’s great artists, has been depicted in so many different ways.
Frida accompanies Jakob on his travels and, as their relationship develops, Jakob finds himself accompanying her – to show her the paintings he is studying while she can still see them; and to share her company. From the moment they set out together, the narrative so evolves as to braid ever more closely art history and the couple’s odyssey.
We follow the deterioration of Frida’s condition much as one follows the plot of a thriller. She is by no means assured that the treatment she has been prescribed is working; nor does she always remember to take her pills and potions as regularly as she should. At the last moment she returns to Oslo, where she enters hospital and is operated on.
The book is beautifully illustrated by reproductions of all the 33 paintings the two teenagers admire throughout their journey.