Today’s topic is Appelsinpiken ( The orange girl ) by Jostein Gaarder.
The orange girl is a very beautiful short novel, about love, life, purpose of living, universe and the human condition. The story is depicted as a letter to a 14 year old boy from his deceased father, which he barely met until he passed away when the boy was 4. His father wrote this letter to Georg, in order to tell him the main story of his life, so it could help him when he grows up, knowing that he won’t be there for him anymore.
The mysterious orange girl is his father’s love of his life, a girl which he meets in a public transport tram, carrying a bag of oranges. Because of him, she drops some oranges, and it’s lost on the streets, but somehow it marks the young Georg’s father for life. The orange girl becomes his obsession, and he desperately tries to find her. The theme of the young boy in love is depicted, the desperate search, the dreams and ideas that come to mind, the play of the mind and body. He takes the same tram over and over trying to see her again, wandering the streets imagining every person is her. The adolescentine and naive love is cheerfully colored, with a happy ending: he finally finds the orange girl, only to leave him eyes in the sun again, being mysterious and disappearing once again.
Another part of the story is depicted in the letter in the father’s present time : he tells the story of the child Georg, and the mirage of the Hubble telescope, a wonder of science that allows us to see past our current condition and into the greatness of the space and Universe. Georg’s father knows that he won’t live forever, and tries to teach his future older boy about his experience, about the meaning of life, and the gift that is only once given to us.
Georg realizes that the orange girl is really his mother, now widow and remarried, and with a new little sister for him. He begins to see something in his mother, something that his father was crazy about, something which completely changed his life for ever, and something which does not regret a single moment, even though it brought so much pain and so much happiness in the same time.
The letter changes Georg’s life as well, being now more mature of a sudden, and being more brave to speak with a girl himself dreams about. He begins to value other things in life, and tries to follow his path, as the most important result of a pure love between his father and the orange girl.
The novel depicts these strong themes, love, life, death, although it has a sad ending, the future does not sound bad at all, and life cycle begins again, with a new love, a new tomorrow, and new things to discover, for each of us. The experience of love is lived again and again, and our place in the Universe is well established, although very volatile and passing.
Wonderfully written, The orange girl leaves you with a bittersweet taste, one of found love, fulfilled love, but still, with an emptiness inside, that one needs to fill it in their own lives as best as they can. The author invites us to listen more to the stories of our parents, of our closest persons, and learn from their experiences.