The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen
Hester Velmans (Translator)
Grand Central Publishing: 7/11/17
eBook review copy; 384 pages
the decision to give the world a little taste of the real Hendrik
Groen. I hereby declare that in this diary I am going to give the world
an uncensored exposé: a year in the life of the inmates of a care home
in North Amsterdam." As quoted from The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, a recommended novel, highly for the right reader.
are some funny lines: "Of the five senses, my nose still works best.
Which is not always a blessing in here. It smells of old people." There
are some sad, poignant moments, and some very realistic scenes, but
much of the book has an optimistic feel, sort of shenanigans among the
elderly, even as the people around him struggle with their health and
other issues. Along with the retelling of the daily events, there is commentary about
care for the elderly.
Henry has his list of complaints and topics he discusses
with his doctor, but he is still alive so he has decided to write a
dairy exposing all the daily occurrences and happenings at the
retirement home where he lives with an assortment of other "inmates." He
discusses (quite a bit) his dribbles and move to wearing an adult
diaper, the outings of the Old-But-Not-Dead Club, his mobility scooter,
his friends amputations due to diabetes, another friends worsening
dementia, and the on-going questioning of the director about the
policies of the home.
written in the diary format, so the plot is the daily events in the care
home as seen through Hendrik's musings, thoughts, or stories. Although
it is being compared to A Man Called Ove, the comparison didn't
hold up for me. It's not necessarily bad, it's just not as well written.
While I initially enjoyed it, I soon tired of the format along with the
novel. Additionally, serious health problems and facing death can also
come to those who are much younger than these residents. (I will concede
that perhaps this wasn't a good week for me to read this one. I don't regret reading it, but I was glad when it was over.)
My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.