Is life random or a chain of events?

The Memory of Love - Linda Olsson

There are many problems with this novel, but I found it thoroughly engrossing and worthwhile.

The narrator, a child of a dysfunctional and destructive family, tells her story of abuse, neglect and loss as she tells another story of Ika, a young abused child , who finds her and builds her up making her almost whole. The stories are not similar, but build upon each other. The narrator arrives in New Zealand via Sweden and London, through a devoted grandfather, a clueless, careless mother, caring gay uncles, a loveless marriage, a passionate affair and lastly a hermit's life in a small village half way across the world in a self imposed exile.

Ika, the orphan, like most abused children rarely makes eye contact or smiles and keeps his distance. He is described as mildly autistic and a musical savant. I find this troubling. Autistic children, in my experience, are not autistic because of abuse and neglect. Autistic children do not become trusting and loving because they are loved. This is the part which I find unrealistic, still it makes for a nice story.

The narrators detachment to her own life indicates that her life has been "on the spectrum". Yet she is not autistic either, just a neglected child who copes, but does not trust others or herself. She has lost her brother and trust and yet becomes a family doctor. She retires early to walk the beach. In her mid 50's she is found by a boy and restarts her life. Not very believable , but such a nice idea. Together they create a family and a collaborative monument.

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