Lars Husum read aloud in English for only the third time earlier this month. When he signed my book he admitted that sometimes he didn't even know what a word meant, he just read the translation anyway. It was a good effort. Husum read the first chapter and I was happily satisfied by the appearance of 'the c word' (and I don't mean Christmas) on page four and a suicide attempt on page five. By now it's apparent that these kinds of stories really get me going.
But My Friend Jesus Christ is far from being one of those modern novels of the torturous self. Niko's parents die in a car crash when he's a teenager and his older sister takes it upon herself to look after him. They're not lacking in money, seeing as their mother was Denmark's biggest popstar. But eventually Sis has to lead her own life and sets up family, a happiness that Niko ends up completely ruining. He ruins his own life, he ruins the lives of those he loves.
Then he meets Jesus. Jesus recommends that Niko moves to his mother's home town of Tarm where he collects together an unlikely band of friends. Jesus advices Niko in sorting his life out via helping the lives he essentially destroyed. Niko's difficult journey becomes one of redemption, a topic that is so often neglected in the modern novel (at least in many of the books that I've read).
The cast of characters in My Friend Jesus Christ are all loveable each in their own particular way. Some of them, such as Niko's best friend Jeppe, have nasty habits to overcome. There's a lot of violence in this book, but it doesn't seem to aim at gore. Violence is a result of Niko's turmoil, rather than unnecessary happyslapping.
It's a tender book in many ways, celebrating friendship and the ability of a person to achieve when he is supported by loved ones. Despite the dark offset and the difficulty of things to come to terms with, My Friend Jesus Christ is also a very funny read. It manages to encompass so many emotions in such a short space - definitely worth the read. So glad I found this! (So thanks Edinburgh Book Festival for giving me the chance to hear him!)