Portuguese / Portugal
Carvalho, Bernardo P. (illus.)
Carcavelos: Planeta Tangerina, 2016. – 183 p.
(Series: Dois passos e um salto)
Adolescence | Love | Lovesickness | Letter
Reading age: 14+
White Ravens issue: 2017
In contemporary Portuguese young adult literature, the novels of Ana Pessoa (b. 1982) take up an exceptional place. The author is masterfully adept at describing the cosmos of maturing teens, with its challenges and dramas, turbulences, moments of happiness, disappointments, and catastrophes. She writes in an authentic language that captures the protagonists’ sense of life and closely orients itself to their pulse. In an astonishing way, her newest book does all this and more. “Mary John” sets itself apart from the author’s previous novels by its even more coherent storytelling, its undisguised, intense language, and the deep insight it offers into the emotional world of the protagonist and first-person narrator. Maria João, called Mary John, writes a single, long letter to Júlio “Pirata”, her first, unrequited love. She openly writes of friendship, longing, desire, and sexuality and the painful process of dealing with feelings such as rejection and loneliness.