Greta & Valdin

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What a delight! A book just as likely to break your heart as it is to tickle your funny bone, this charmer is a one-of-a-kind read, featuring a one-of-a-kind family who, come what may, will love and support their offspring. (And their offspring. And all the interconnected others that may end up sharing their table or home.)

Greta and Valdin Vladisavljevics are (young) adult siblings, each of them struggling in their own way with the heart-heavy hazards of growing up, as they share an apartment, and lean on each other, as unobtrusively (yet firmly) as they can manage.

Based in Auckland, New Zealand, G and V hail from exquisitely unflappable parents, whom we come to know as their beautiful and mysterious Māori mom and Russian Professor of funghi Dad. As weird and wonderful as the situations are that arise, nothing seems to rock this parentage, with their wide-open attitudes of fluidity, hilarious eccentricities, and unquestionable love for their family.

As Greta, twenty-six years old, a graduate student in Russian comparative literature, falls in and out of love, she is by turn wistful, raging, insecure, naive, vulnerable and oh so funny in her offbeat observations on life, politics, academics, social situations, the women she secretly adores, and the horrors she must navigate to find love and her soul-mate.

Valdin, or V as he is commonly known, is five years older, formerly a physics professor, and now a minor New Zealand TV celebrity. V has OCD, (managed, but lapsing him into stresses over many things), a sharp eye for fashion, and is subject to rambling (hilarious) imaginings of the worlds everyone (but himself) are presumably experiencing. V, deep in his heart, is achingly lonely, – never having recovered from his love for an older man, the sweet and gentle Xabi, who also happens to be the siblings uncle’s husband’s brother.

And so we see the start of the multitude of tangled relationships, interconnected stories, and oddball characters (most of whom you may find yourself just wanting to hug) you will meet between the pages of this fast and fabulous read.

If you’re at all like this reader, the Vladisavljevics are a family you will wish you could spend more time with, captured warmly in an infinitely accessible book you will find hard to put down. A favorite 2024 pick already, akin in humor and charm to a millennial-driven “Lessons in Chemistry”, – for this reader, one can only hope there will be a sequel.

A great big thank you to the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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