In Silence we LoveAuthor: Simona Sparaco
Inspired by a true story, this suspenseful and poetic novel follows that fateful and tragic day in the lives of five families living in a single building in Berlin. Its residents go about their lives, respectfully ignoring each other and dodging those they love most, unaware that in fifteen short hours nothing will ever be the same. A malfunctioning refrigerator in an empty apartment is gathering momentum to burst into flames.
Regular people caught in their own electrifying drama – mothers, sons, daughters and fathers, silent and fearful – trapped and unable to express their sentiments, fighting battles their neighbors know nothing about.
Polina, a Latvian ballerina and single mother is haunted by the torments of her ancestors. She seldom sees the father of her baby boy, and when she does, she keeps her distance. When her newborn son cries, she often doesn’t hear him, so engrossed is she in her own depression. At times she’ll sit on the window sill and dream of her frail bones shattering on the sidewalk in a million little pieces. She doesn’t realize that she is being watched or cared for although, Bastien, her neighbor’s son, once brought her a cake from his mother just as she was preparing to jump.
Bastien’s mother, Naima, is wheelchair-bound. She is Algerian by origin. She and her French husband, Gerard, were so madly in love that their son felt like an outsider. Naima’s husband is still the center of her life, and she refuses to admit that he has passed away; she pretends she is losing him to a creeping dementia instead. Naima worries about Bastien, who has had a troubled past, and doesn’t trust him. She fears he will put her and Gerard in a nursing home and sell the apartment that is the couple’s only anchor to their past.
Alice, a student from Italy, sees Bastien often, in the elevator. She is supposed to be studying, but now that she has met Matthias, all she can think of is him. Her mother smothers her, calling all the time from Italy. Alice refuses to answer the phone today. She hasn’t the courage to tell her that she has stopped going to classes, but she writes about it in her diary, which will miraculously survive the flames.
Hulya helps her Turkish family in the grocery store near the building. Her parents expect her to get married, but she won’t. She is secretly in love with Polina, and can’t help noticing that she sometimes sits on the window sill of her apartment, dangerously dangling her long ballerina legs. Hulya has a secret passion for video-making and records the movements of her neighbors. She is the first to see the smoke that evening and call for help. It will take the firefighters untill dawn to put out the blaze, but the stars will go out before that, as soon as the smoke starts rising in the sky.
One thing is sure: it takes a tragedy to bring people together, and after that tragic night those who survive will no longer love in silence.
This page-turning and heartbreaking novel explores urban isolation, the incommunicability between generations, the floundering freedom that accompanies immigration, and the terror of self-sacrifice. But above all, it explores the tenuous nature of love and how it forever changes anyone who experiences it.
Publisher: Dea Planeta
Publish Date: 2019
Page Count: 227