Book Review – Porcelain Soul by Andreea Lichi

First published, 2020
English translation from 2022

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

“The thing is that, in the end, help comes from people who have had difficulties in life.”
p192, Chapter Thirty-Nine, Paving for the Future, Porcelain Soul by Andreea Lichi

When she was thirteen years old, dancer Andreea Lichi got into a car with a boy she didn’t know, and was involved in an accident that left her paralysed, traumatised, and looking to a future that included a huge amount of pain and hospitalisation.

After lots of treatment and plenty of special equipment, Andreea transfers from one hospital to another before finally being allowed home; but her world has changed. Everything must be done for her, her friends have largely disappeared, and the hopes she had for her future are out of reach.

But with her new circumstances, the author finds a new and exciting educational challenge and a path to better representation for disabled people in her native Romania, as a model for the brand, Atipic Beauty.

I think this author has managed to recapture her teenage voice well. There’s a sense of unfairness and devastation that runs right through the book, as well as more mature, philosophical musings on life and people, especially when faced with an emergency. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the mixture of past and present tense. I think it really helped to convey the confusion and ethereality of a medical emergency.

For this reader, Porcelain Soul is not a tale of hope in adversity, but rather a story of how, when it all goes horrifically wrong, you’re quite right to acknowledge it. I’m not much for true stories where everyone’s hopeful and optimistic right from the off. I’m sure those people exist but they’re not for me. I rather like a heroine who tells it like it is, even when it’s dreadful, and that is what you’ll find in this book.

I felt terribly sad for Andreea when, a good while after the accident, she found the online articles about it, and the way she was described by various anonymous commentators. After such a prolonged period of time in hospitals, with a number of doctors declaring her crying and screaming ‘fussiness’, it seemed too much for her to then find herself accused of thrill-seeking by strangers on the internet.

I read the English translation (I have no Romanian) from 2022, in paperback, through Scotland Street Press.