What You Can See From Here by Mariana Leky reviewed

What You Can See From Here Book Cover What You Can See From Here
Mariana Leky
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)
July 22, 2021

On a beautiful spring day, a small village in Western Germany wakes up to an omen: Selma has dreamed of an okapi. Someone is about to die. But who?

As the residents of the village begin acting strangely (despite protestations that they are not superstitious), Selma's granddaughter Luise looks on as the imminent threat brings long carried secrets to the surface. And when death comes, it comes in a way none of them could have predicted...

A story about the absurdity of life and death, a bittersweet portrait of village life and the wider world that beckons beyond, What You Can See from Here is a story about the way loss and love shape not just a person, but a community.

What You Can See From Here by Mariana Leky

Luisa lives in a small town in Germany. One day when she is ten she finds out that her Grandmother, Selma, has dreamed about an Okapi during the night. Based on previous experience that means that someone in the village will die within the next day. This leaves each of the villagers wondering if they are facing death. In turn that means that secrets and ideas become exposed. What You Can See From Here initially follows the news of the possible death as it moves around the village.

After that the book focusses on Luisa’s life more directly and those close to her for whatever reason. It also looks at the aftermath of that day on peoples lives. We get to know a number of the villagers quite well particularly Luisa’s direct family. Her parents have troubles and Selma, together with Selma’s friend the optician, loom large in Luisa life as she grows into adulthood and her twenties.

Although I finished this a few days back I am still not quite sure exactly what I make of What You Can See From Here. I can understand the comments that this is rather slow and that is the case in the earlier part of the book. I did wonder briefly if I would finish it. However as the book progress it did draw me steadily into Luisa’s story. I realise that mine is an advance copy but I did find the language rather strange at times. It is possible that this is a translation issue and I can’t honestly say it diminished the book for me.

What I did get from the book as I read was something that started to enchant me. It can be whimsical and gentle. It can be off the wall and amusing. It can touch your heart at times too. There is a line (& I paraphrase) along the lines of “Don’t try and see things – they are easier to find that way” and that says something about this book. There is something of a Zen like quality sometimes. There is humanity and love too. This is a story that will not work for everyone however for those it does it will reward you. If you like to find tales that are not mainstream this one might just be for you. 3.5/5

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review