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The Particle - Robi's Flying Saucer Series

Buy Here Part 1 of the Robi's Flying Saucer Series

Kelly Winsa 'Robi’s Flying Saucer Drive-In' a novel

A review

 

Reading a book about an adolescent or teenager does not mean it is a book for young adults. Why are there so little novels with young people as the main character? Why is it that almost always we are invited to enter the inner world of adults, to follow their adventures?

In fact it is the world of young people that shows how strange and wonderful life itself is! They are unhindered by the strict rules of grown ups. Yes, they have their rules too, but they are a bit wonky, idiosyncratic, sometimes outrageous or silly. Still they form the moral and social compasses that they live by in those years. And since we all have been young adults, we recognize their inner worlds. They remind us who we were once, how unstable and exciting life was, how full of promises, failures and disappointments. And so is the world of our protagonist Saffron, a fourteen year old girl living in Antoninio.

What kind of names are those? No, she is not the daughter of hippies or pop stars, her parents are quite normal academics. In fact Saffron is quite a normal girl, but her name evokes a promise, a peculiarity, an instant sympathy. She is smart, funny and whimsical. As a reader I smiled a lot while reading, laughed out loud even.

 

When I worked at Robi’s I must have had the metabolism of a rabbit—a skinny rabbit, not one of those overfed ones—because I ate a lot of fried foods and never topped one hundred and twenty pounds. Maybe it was all that running around. It could have just been hormones.

 

Antoninio can not be found on Google Maps, but it is where Saffron lives. Fiction and reality at the same time, for we can imagine cities or towns with a name like that. In fact the book has a clear cinematographic quality. It brings Juno in mind, the 2007 movie from director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody.

Her life is not very adventurous, but one day her parents buy a diner. She starts working there to save money. For she has a dream. She wants to go to France, to visit Paris and experience a different life. And there is this new and enigmatic girl Clair in her class. She feels drawn to her, and though Clair comes to live in the basement with Saffron's family, she stays a bit mysterious. Claire could be seen as the personalization of what life may have in store for Saffron. Maybe.

Kelly Winsa wrote a sensitive and lively novel, in which we dwell in Saffron's world for a while. There is a kind of naturalness in her writing, as life it self is.  Things come and go, as even the most strange things come and go. In her short and happy life little sparkles of angst and sadness can be felt too. Reading the dialogues is like being present in the room, or, again, seeing a movie:

 

“Can’t you stop that?”

“Stop what?” Fred said, his mouth open.

“Close your mouth. I am not interested in seeing what chewed food looks like!”

“Oh.” Fred looked hurt.

“Sorry. Just in case you want a girlfriend.”

 

The book invites you to see life as it is. There is something of Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in it, or The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾  by British author Sue Townsend. Townsend wrote a series of ten diaries no less, ending by Adrian Mole: the Prostrate Years.

Winsa's novel has its own sphere and language, as girls bring a different 'atmosphere', different codes and words. I would happily read more about this girl Saffron, turning into a young woman. Will she be going back to Paris, after her first maiden trip as a schoolgirl? Go, Girl, go!

 

Margriet Kemper, artist and writer

The Netherlands, june 2022

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Buy Here   Part 2 in the Robi’s Flying Saucer Series

Saffron’s life goes on as usual. She listens to her teachers and sometimes her mother. Mostly she works at Robi’s flying saucer drive-in and hopes Clair Villeneuve will return.

On a particular Sunday afternoon, Saffron accompanies her mother to Bonaventura high school bringing rotisserie chickens for the sisters’ luncheon. Saffron notices a peculiar monklike figure entering the basement of the school and she follows him.

The creature has brought with him, an ancient relic. He leaves it  with Sister Maris Stella but the old nun cannot hide it for long in the old library. A plan is devised and Saffron must leave Antoninio, carrying an iridescent stone with her.  A delivery is in progress and the stone is irreplaceable. The sisters in a paris convent have an old foodtruck and help saffron, fred, and Cecilia escape paris but to what future?  Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, Library