Crossing the Line

17-year-old Henni is placed in a reform school on account of coffee smuggling and her “pathological lying” — however, that is just part of the truth. She had taken on her dead mother’s responsibilities and was looking after her younger brothers and sisters who ended up in a church-run children’s home, where little Matthias died of pneumonia.

That too is also just a part of the truth. In her own hypnotic and precise language, Mechtild Borrmann tells the story of a woman with a zest for life and who both believes in justice and despairs at it. Embedded in a dark chapter of contemporary history, this novel is as enthralling as it is disturbing.