Childhood is that amazing period of time from birth to the onset of puberty. It is that wonderful time when children do not yet have to face the cruelty and injustice of the world around them. There are no social masks. Children are (or should be) protected from most adult concerns. But nothing lasts forever and with puberty and adolescence come discoveries, responsibilities and worries. And it is precisely about this transition between tender childhood and the first discoveries that Malaherba (Alfaguara, 2019) is about, the beautiful novel in which Manuel Jabois makes the leap to the novel to show us this exciting journey through the innocent eyes of a 10-year-old boy.
Review of the book “Malaherba”
“I believe that because that world, the world of grown-ups, consists of hiding things by asking them, and the world of children consists of not wanting to know them by answering them”. This is one of the many reflections that Tambu, the protagonist of Malaherba, will make throughout the novel. Throughout its pages we will witness the moving experiences of both Tambu and the rest of the characters: his sister, his neighbours, his friends, his schoolmates and his adult references. Jabois thus portrays, through the naivety and simplicity of a child’s eyes, the convulsive transition from childhood to puberty. In those last days of childhood, when we can be forbidden to know but not to sense, Tambu will discover, almost at the same time, love, death and cruelty. And he will have to learn to resign himself to what cannot be understood but cannot be changed.
Malaherba is a moving novel about love, friendship, first experiences and the loss of innocence. Written with agile, close and beautiful prose, this childhood story also deals with the hard learning of life and the feeling of guilt of children who don’t know what they are doing wrong. Emotional and nostalgic, tender and hard at the same time, it shows us how friendship, true love, can overcome everything, how it helps us not to feel alone and to defend ourselves even when our family environment, like that of the main characters in the novel, is not the best.
Malaherba: a defence against abuse
Malaherba by Manuel Jabois is also a critique of abuse, of bullying. Its protagonists are victims of bullying by their classmates.
About the author Manuel Jabois
Manuel Jabois (Sansenxo, Pontevedra, 1978) began his career as a journalist in Diario de Pontevedra. After working at El Mundo, since 2015 he has been writing reports, chronicles and columns for El País; as a writer, he has published the collection of articles Irse a Madrid ( 2011), Las breves memorias Grupo Salvaje (2012) and Manu (2013), and a long work on 11-M entitled Nos vemos en esta vida o en la otra ( 2016). After Malaherba ( Alfaguara, 2019), he has just published his latest novel Miss Marte (Alfaguara, 2021).
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