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Excerpt from The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The End of the Ocean

by Maja Lunde

The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde X
The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde
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  • Published:
    Jan 2020, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Herschbach
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About this Book

Print Excerpt


Too old to cry, too old for these tears, but nonetheless my cheeks are damp.

Our ice, Magnus, our ice.

Have you forgotten about it, or did you perhaps not even notice that the first time we met it was with melting ice from Blåfonna in our hands?

I was seven, you were eight, do you remember? It was my birthday and I was given a present of water, frozen water.

All life is water, all life was water, everywhere I turned, there was water. It gushed from the sky as rain or snow, it filled the small lakes in the mountains, lay in the form of ice in the glacier, it flowed down the steep mountainsides in thousands of small streams, accumulated into the River Breio, formed a flat surface in front of the village in the fjord, the fjord that became the ocean when you followed it west. My whole world was water. The ground, the mountains, the pastures were just tiny islands in that which actually was the world. I called my world Earth but thought that it should actually be named Water.

The summer was so hot, as if we lived somewhere else entirely. The heat didn't belong here, and how the English tourists staying at our hotel sweated, sitting outside in the big garden under the fruit trees, fanning themselves with old newspapers. They said that they never imagined that it could be so hot here up north.

When I awoke, the bed was empty, Mommy and Daddy were already up. I used to sleep between them; during the night I tiptoed into their room and lay down in the middle of the double bed. They asked if I'd been dreaming, but that wasn't why.

"I don't want to be alone," I said. "I want to be with somebody."

They must certainly understand that; they slept here with somebody every single night, but regardless of how many times I came in, they didn't understand. Every evening when I went to bed, they reminded me that I had to sleep in my own bed all night, not just half the night. I said that I would, because I understood that was what they wanted me to say, but then I woke up anyway. Every night I sat up and felt how empty the bed was, how empty the room was, and then I tiptoed in—no, I didn't tiptoe, young children are no good at tiptoeing, especially not me. I just walked, without thinking about how I was making noise, without thinking about how I woke them. I walked across the cold floorboards into their room, where I always climbed in from the foot of the bed, because then I could push my way down in between them without having to crawl across either of their big bodies. I never needed a duvet because their bodies, on either side of my own, were warm enough.

But on this particular morning I was lying in bed alone—they were up, but because it was my birthday I couldn't get up with them. I knew I had to lie there quietly, I remembered it from last year, that on your birthday you're supposed to lie still and wait for them to come. But the itchiness, I can still remember the itchiness, how it erupted in my arms and feet—the intolerableness of the waiting, that it was almost not to be borne, that perhaps it would have been better not to even have a birthday at all.

"Are you coming soon?" I asked cautiously.

But nobody answered.

"Hello?!"

I was suddenly afraid they wouldn't come, that they had gotten the day wrong.

"MOMMY AND DADDY?!"

Or that they'd forgotten all about my birthday.

"HELLO, MOMMY AND DADDY!!!"

But then they appeared, carrying a cake and singing. They stood on opposite sides of the bed and sang in their high and low voices, in perfect unison—and then all of a sudden it was too much, all of it. I had to pull the duvet up over my head and stay in bed even longer, even though I really wanted to get up.

When the song was over, I received presents—from Mommy, a shiny ball and a doll with a mouth that smiled a terribly broad smile.

"It's creepy," I said.

Excerpted from The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde. Copyright © 2020 by Maja Lunde. Excerpted by permission of Harper Via. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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