I read Our Endless Numbered Days for the Socratic Salon discussion a couple of weeks ago. Author Claire Fuller participated in a Twitter chat hosted by the Salon and even answered a couple of my questions.
Seventeen year old Peggy Hillcoat is trying to adjust to a normal life with her mother, and a brother she’s never known, after years of living with her father, the worst survivalist ever. When she was just eight years old, her father kidnapped her and forced her to live in a run-down hut in the middle of a German forest. It was not a fun time.
An amateur survivalist, James Hillcoat was unprepared for what he finds in the forest. Every time he messed up, I rolled my eyes at how over his head he was. Their lives are in constant danger and after years of living this way, James becomes unhinged- not that he wasn’t on the edge to begin with.
Peggy didn’t have a normal childhood. She bares the physical and emotional scars of surviving years in an isolated environment. Her father told her that the world ended and nothing existed outside their forested home. When she steps into a populated German village, she believes that he was somehow mistaken. She has difficulty connecting with her mother, and still feels a loyalty to her father.
The question is how bad of a father was James to begin with? He was extremely immature, but did that make him a terrible parent? His whole plan was ill conceived and he was too stubborn to admit that it was a bad idea. The responsibility of keeping them both alive, which he was bad at, became too much for him, but he always had the option of going home. He knew they weren’t the only people in the world.
The title of the book, Our Endless Numbered Days, comes from the album title by Iron and Wine. Music is an important part of Peggy’s life, in particular, La Campanella, a piece her mother plays.
Our Endless Numbered Days flips back and forth in time, until gradually the timelines meet and Peggy is seventeen. There are some twists, though I saw where a few things were going early on. This didn’t make it less interesting to me, I wanted to see how it would play out. The end left me wondering what was going to happen to Peggy and her family in the future.
A warning: this is definitely a Children In Peril book and some of it is hard to read at times. Take this into consideration if that is in your no-go zone. It’s still a captivating story.