large stack of envelopes and mail

Did you, by chance, have an unconventional childhood? I suppose we all did, in one way or another, to a greater or lesser extent.

I’d like to tell you about an international bestseller, now available in English, about a boy who’s having an adorably wacky childhood, due to his adorably wacky parents. Here’s a passage from the book describing one of the many unusual aspects of the boy’s home:

“In one corner of the hall, there was a mountain of mail that my parents had tossed on the floor unopened. The mountain was so huge that I could toss myself onto it without getting hurt. Warm and welcoming, it was part of the furniture. Sometimes my father would say, ‘If you’re a bad boy, you’re going to have to open all that mail and sort it!’ But he never made me do it; he didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

How whimsically lovely! Wouldn’t you have adored living in such a home? And so the boy does.

Waiting for Bojangles is a slim and sweet novel by the French debut author Olivier Bourdeaut. The story’s principal wisdom has to do with the pros and cons of living a carefree life.

That “montagne de courrier” in the hall is indicative of how the boy’s parents live. Who cares about paperwork, when you can dance and drink and have parties and tell fantastical stories? That’s their philosophy, and so they live, for a long time.

But . . . can you see a foreshadowing of desperation and despair in this idyllic picture?