By: Mandy Hagar
Location: FIC HAG
Genre: Coming of age; Suicide
What do I know about Vincent Van Gogh? He was a Dutch man, a genius, he painted Starry Night and Sunflowers. He was tormented, a past preacher man nic-named "Christ of the Coal Mines". In his distress he cut off his ear, nearly dying of blood loss. He only ever sold one painting in his life, he committed suicide after years of inner turmoil and rejection, he died a pauper. However now at auction his painting last sold for 82.5 USD.
So why would Tara in this book find solace in a man who was so broken, so filled with despair himself ? Maybe Tara can see in Van Gogh what was happening in her sister, before she also committed suicide, maybe her love of art and the bleak place her life has taken her makes Van Gogh someone she can empathise with. Maybe facing the guilt she feels about her sisters suicide is somehow justified by understanding Vincent Van Gogh.
"Dear Vincent is a novel about the power of love, and how the acquisition of inner peace requires forgiveness of ourselves and others. 17 year old Tara McClusky’s life is hard. She shares the care of her paralysed father with her domineering, difficult mother, forced to cut down on her hours at school to help support the family with a part-time rest home job. She’s very much alone, still grieving the loss of her older sister Van, who died five years before. Her only source of consolation is her obsession with art — and painting in particular. Most especially she is enamoured with Vincent Van Gogh: she has read all his letters and finds many parallels between the tragic story of his life and her own.
NZ Post Award-wining author Mandy Hager tackles the difficult topic of suicide fearlessly, with a novel that's not afraid to go to the dark places but which resolves its story beautifully. It's uplifting and positive. " The Children's Bookshop Wellington Ltd