Milena Busquets, Gema, 2021, 176 p.
A writer’s daily life is shaken by the memory of a friend who died in adolescence. A beautiful novel on memory, love and friendship.
The life of a forty-something writer flows without any great shocks, between her two children and a relationship that seems to come to an end. But this reasonably peaceful existence is being shaken by the reappearance of a ghost from the past in form of a recurring memory: Gema.
Gema was a fellow high-school student who died of leucemia at the age of 15; one of the two deaths that marked her childhood; the other one was that of her father, but he had lived a complete life, while Gema left before her time. What kind of existence would she have had? Into whom would she have developed? When did she see her for the last time? Could she say goodbye to her? Why has time diluted the memory of her dead friend?
Trying to save Gema from oblivion, the narrator starts some investigations that lead her to meet old friends again who also knew Gema; to look for a group photo of the whole class; to visit the high school; to track obituaries in a newspaper; to try to find out what happened with the restaurant the girl’s parents owned…
This is a novel about the past that we think to have forgotten but that pursues us, about the losses that mark us and about the need to say goodbye. But it is also a novel about the will to live and the small joys of daily life, about love –for one’s lovers, one’s children–, and about the friendships that accompany us even after disappearing.
This book, at the same time light and deep, vitalistic and contrite, confirms Milena Busquets’ talent after the extraordinary international success of her previous novel, También esto pasará [This too shall pass], and allows again to enjoy her unique capacity to address emotions and feelings with an inimitable style that has earned her a legion of faithful readers.
Busquets’ literary agent offers more information around the launch. The critics remark that the book is highly autobiographical and gives good insights into the life of Barcelona’s gauche divine or gauche frivole.
There is a 2015 post on Busquets’ previous book.
SOURCE: Anagrama (publisher); Pontas Literary & Film Agency