‘Every person is a story that in no way resembles the story of anyone else. By reading, you find out what other people think.’ Taking this idea as a starting point, Sjoerd Kuyper has written Bizarre, a unique diary adventure packed with beautiful sentences and important thoughts and in which the truth is at stake. In addition, through his unforgettable protagonist, he incidentally raises all kinds of major social issues.
‘There is absolutely no structure in the world.’ This is the first thing that book- worm Sallie Mo (13) has noticed since she started keeping a diary. Writing a diary is a new experience for her: Bloem, the psychiatrist she has been seeing after the death of her beloved, wise Grandpa David, told her to do it. Go and live outside your books, was Bloem’s advice, and look at the world as it really is. And if you really can’t live without books, then write one yourself.
That, however, is more easily said than done. After all, who is in charge in a diary? ‘Real life’ or the writer? ‘Maybe everything you can imagine really does exist,’ says Sallie Mo. ‘Maybe nothing really exists and it’s all just thoughts.’ Kuyper has his protagonist struggle with such notions, presenting, with amused irony, a realistic teen who, aware that the truth is fluid, constantly misleads the reader.
The driving force behind the story is Sallie Mo’s planned conquest of her secret love, Dylan, who she meets every summer during her holiday in the Frisian Islands. When, together with Dylan and two other campers, she discovers a bunker where an armed banker’s daughter is in hiding from her rich father, the story gets really exciting.
The dramatic denouement is unexpectedly heart-breaking, but readers are not left dispirited. ‘A happy life,’ concludes Dylan, ‘means that you’ve searched well. […] If by the end you haven’t found the truth, at least you’ll have seen and heard everything that is beautiful.’ Bizarre is Kuyper at his best.