This is a story about a boy. This is a story about the adults who want him, who each see him as the central player in their individual dreams. He is three years old, healthy, beautiful and he is, to some, the answer to a prayer, and, to others, a means to an end.
To his mother, he is Mikas, a Lithuanian, born to Sigita and Darius who are separated, and so he is the child of a single mother for whom he is the world. Every Saturday when the weather is good, Sigita packs a lunch and fills a thermos with coffee and they go to the playground. Mikas runs and plays and, together, they enjoy their picnic. Recently, though, Sigita has become annoyed and wary with the woman in the long summer coat who comes each week to give the little ones chocolate. She upsets Sigita who, finally, demands that the woman stay away from Mikas. Then, one Saturday, Sigita is found unconscious after getting intoxicated to the point of endangering her life. Everyone knows Sigita doesn’t drink. Neither she nor anyone else can explain the concussion, the broken arm, and the empty bottle of vodka in her apartment. Neither she nor anyone else can explain or remember who took Mikas away. He hasn’t been seen since the playground a few days before. A neighbor tells the police Mikas left with his father but when she is finally pressed for a description, the man who took Mikas looks nothing like Darius.
In the meantime, Nina Borg has been contacted by Karin, her best friend since their school days and through the days when they were training to be nurses. They have lost touch but when Karin calls Nina and begs that she help her, Nina can’t refuse. Nina is married and the mother of two children but she has a compulsion to try to bring order to the worst of the world’s situations. There isn’t anyplace in the throes of revolution or famine or natural disaster that Nina has not been as a nurse working for the Danish Red Cross. Karin appeals to Nina’s need to deal with those in trouble and she imposes on Nina to collect a suitcase from a left luggage area of the Central Station. She tells Nina not to open the suitcase until she has left the area of the lockers and not to open it when anyone else is around. Nina is annoyed but does as Karin asks. Nina drags the suitcase to her car and opens it to find a boy, healthy and unharmed, but heavily drugged.
From this point, the cast of characters increases and the motives for their interest become increasingly murky. Nina is too frightened to go home to a husband she loves and trusts. For her, it is she and the boy alone against the world.
THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE is a compelling reading experience. The chapters are short so it is easy to decide to read “just until the end of this chapter” until the end of the chapter is reached and it is necessary to read “just one more.” To describe the action and the direction of the story is to tell too much.
What makes the book so compelling is the ethical issues raised by the need to have a child. The needs may be different, the methods may fall between black and white and into shades of gray, and the child may or may not be the ultimate reward but all the motives are understandable and authentic. THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE is outstanding.
I received this book through Amazon Vine.