‘The Cement Garden’ by Ian McEwan

The Cement Garden

This book is about a happy, though slightly strange family that gets into a situation which you can’t quite imagine to happen in real life.

The family consist of six people including the parents. The children are called Jack, Julie, Sue and Tom in order of age. In this book Jack is the narrator.  The father of the family is a person who is more busy with his garden than his children. Their mother on the other hand is a very caring parent for her children. The names of their parents aren’t told. The names of the parents don’t actually matter that much because the father only play in the beginning of the book and dies, and the mother dies at the half of it. Jack states that he doesn’t really care his father died and that he only tells the story of his death to explain why he has a huge amount of cement with which he buried his mother. When his mother starts to get sick she doesn’t get out of the house anymore, and when it gets worse she doesn’t even leave her bed anymore. The children have to take over the tasks their mother normally does like preparing food, cleaning the house and shopping. Julie makes herself in a way head of the family and manages the funds of the family.

Their mother died as i told in the middle of the book and because their only remaining parent is gone they don’t have a funeral but they bury her in their basement because else they will be taken away from their house. I was kinda Shocked by this because they seemed more affected by having to leave the house than the fact that their mother just died. When their mother dies, the children have reached a state in which they can, although they don’t really put much effort in it, maintain themselves. It seems as if they do a great job given the fact that they have no parents, but the opposite is true. Jack starts hitting Sue, knowing nobody can stop him from doing it, and Tom starts acting like a transvestite and gets bullied at school.

Ian McEwan put the perspective in Jack, which is a good choice. The parents can’t have the narrator role because they die, and if he were to make Tom or Sue the narrator, all the problems the family had wouldn’t look the same. So Julie and Jack are left, leaving the personage Derek out of it because he entered the story later on. He made Jack narrator because he dislikes the presence of Julie’s boyfriend and he criticizes the authority of Julie all the time. Julie is too convinced of her own right and importance.

The story was a bit evenly until a new persona, Derek, came into the story. Derek is Julie’s ‘bloke’. When he joins the routine of the family, Jack starts to get really envious about him. Whether this is because he has a nice car and is a pro snooker player, or because he and Julie are together is questionable. Derek feels a bit excluded of the family when he finds out they buried their mother in the basement and they tell him it’s a dog. Julie’s attraction towards Jack builds up as the story continues building up to a certain turning point where Derek has enough of it and he seemingly calls the cops and make an end to the peculiar way of living of the odd family he tried to join.

I recommend this book to people with certain amount of patience when it comes to reading books, because the begin of the book is too uneventful, and slightly boring. Only when the mother dies, the story gets a bit interesting. But if you get through the begin of this book, its an entertaining story and its nice to read.


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