You know the saying, that we walk in the sins of our fathers. That idea resonated with me after I finished Odaatje’s simple, but moving story. Nathaniel, the narrator, relates a period of time when his parents disappeared and he and his older sister were left in the care of strangers. It was actually a short period of time, but the events of those years shaped Nathaniel’s and his sister Rachel’s life for years to come. I couldn’t help thinking that the decisions the parents made — both before their children were born and after — affected the children’s lives in so many, often devastating, ways. Nathaniel’s life path is interesting (he meets many “characters” and winds up working for British Intelligence), but it’s also melancholy. It was that melancholy feeling I took with me as I finished the book. However, don’t let my feelings put you off. The novel is beautifully written — there are many parts to savor.