Youth book by Erna Sassen: Tattoos by Rembrandt – culture

He definitely has talent, he sees himself as an artist. Certainly Joshua is a loner. He keeps a lot of what he thinks to himself. And there’s a lot that annoys him. In particular, he finds his classmates to be sick, the worst is Sergio, a kickboxer who is fully tattooed from top to bottom and a beating king in the schoolyard.

And since Joshua’s best and only friend Zivan had to go back to Iraq with her parents, he feels more alone than ever. She was the only one he could talk to about anything, who knew his sensitive side – and with whom he is also in love. But now she no longer answers, his messages end up in the digital void. Until he finds out that her cell phone was taken away.

He is particularly good at drawing wolves

Erna Sassen’s youth novel “Ohne Dich” is about a classic outsider. The 15-year-old Joshua is called “Rembrandt” half-mockingly. Because he’s good at drawing. Surprisingly, this puts him in contact with Sergio, whom he actually hates.

Erna SassenPhoto: Wolfgang Schmidt

He got his hands on Joshua’s sketchbook and is so impressed by his wolf drawings that he gives him an order right away. Joshua is to design Sergio’s next tattoo. The artist is irritated and flattered.

The Dutch writer writes without pointing fingers, but with a message. You shouldn’t trust your prejudices, people are often different than they first appear.

Sergio is by no means the blunt bullying fiend Joshua made him out to be. He also has to change his mind about Sergio’s “bodyguard” Dylan, whom he previously thought was “brainless”, when he learns his shocking backstory.

Escape to the women’s shelter

The world finally begins to slip after Zivan returns to the small town near Amsterdam. Between her and Joshua it’s not like it used to be, she’s changed, she’s dismissive. And one day she disappears again without saying goodbye. Joshua later hears that Zivan is to be married to a cousin in Iraq. That’s why she has to hide in women’s shelters.

“Ohne Dich” seems like a mixture of diary and sketchbook. “Joshua’s” drawings – they come from the illustrator Martijn van der Linden – alternate with the text. What he cannot describe in words, he draws. Joshua doesn’t like paintings: “It bothers me when everything is completely filled with paint, (…) no vacancies anywhere.” He never wants to be finished with art, just like with life.

By Editor

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