Heather O’Neill || The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

In The Girl Who Was Saturday Night we are introduced to the 1994 creative slum of Montreal. Though main character Nouschka and her brother Nicolas do not have a penny to their name, they are the twin children of famous chansonnier Etienne who used to drag them along to his performances on the stage and on telly. As a result Nouschka and Nicolas are famous in their own area: populated with arty, creative or criminal neighbours. Nicolas blames his childhood (mother unknown, father using them to improve his career prospects, feeble grandparents raising them) for dropping out of school and choosing to become a petty criminal. When we meet Nouschka she has slowly started to realize that she herself has to make sure her future is less grim. Nouschka enrolls in high school, thus severing the clingy ties between her and Nicolas. He on the other hand sticks to the behaviour that got him kicked out of school, out of marriage and out his own role as a parent to his young child. Though Nouschka encounters quite some obstacles she perseveres: her marriage to former child ice escapade star Raphaël, her pregnancy, they do not change her mind about becoming a writer, and needing an education to get there. She finishes high school and enrolls into university. Nouschka will turn out allright, prospects for Nicolas and Raphaël are grimmer. The Girl Who Was Saturday Night joins the ranks of coming of age novels; Nouschka’s proces from carefree girl to responsible woman and mother follows the usual pattern. The main difference being the almost freak show world in which Nouschka lives: a part of Montreal that is so extreme that I wonder whether its occupants recognize it.  I must admit that as far as I was concerned this world was quite over the top and I could not stop thinking O’Neill had been influenced heavily by the likes of Tom Waits and early Madonna in her type casting. I noticed that I started drifting away when another freak element was introduced, to get drawn back into the novel the moment O’Neill wrote one of many beautiful insights into Nouschka’s growing up process. Towards the end of the novel the latter became more important, in this way the novel expertly mirrors Nouschka. I could have done with a novel that was situated in a world slightly less over the top because I felt that it diverted me too much from what the novel was really about: writing beautifully about a young woman determined to better her life.

Girl who was saturdag


About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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