«I am 35 years old. I do not want children.
It’s not something I talk to other people about. It is something that I am ashamed of, a topic I avoid; take long verbal detours around. When my friends talk about having kids, I change the topic. I do not want to be too certain or unbending, because I might suddenly wake up one day and find that I have become one of them, an ordinary woman in her thirthies wanting to get pregnant, wanting a family, wanting to expand my life, my body and my heart to make room for more than myself. You are allowed to change your mind.»
The main character in Linn Strømsborg´s novel Never, ever, ever has never wanted children. She has been living with Philip for eight years, and they have agreed to not have children – up until now. Because maybe Philip might want to become a dad after all? And while her two best friends are expecting their first child, and her mother is constantly nagging about grandchildren, and her everyday life is full of parents with toddlers and births and the struggle of others to have enough time for it all, she is firm in her life and her choice about not having children.
Never, ever, ever is a novel about why we have children, and why we do not have children. It is the story about choosing something other than what is expected of you, but at the same time wanting a normal life.
NOMINATED TO THE NORWEGIAN BOOKSELLER AWARD
Strømsborg explore motherhood through the relation the narrator holds to her own mother, her grandparents and her mothers relationship to her parents. She has interesting perspectives on Motherhood vs. Fatherhood, writes beautifully about growing up and how friendships change once someone has kids. The book is never introverted, but has a narrative driven by good dialogues and storyline. The story is elegantly composed, at times cinematic.
Strømsborg has written rare and energized prose about a timely and somewhat taboo topic.
A thing that is exciting about the book is how it portrays the choice of not having children, both in a longer perspective but also in a somewhat critical period of life. Never, ever, ever shows how existentially gripping it is to see the window closing, and still tell yourself that it is the right thing to do. The novel gets very close on a childless everyday life and future.
Linn Strømsborg awakens awareness about our family expectations. Her prose is pleasant and touching.
Luckily the novel does not end up being an apology for the voluntarily childless. It is rather existential. And it is good literature. The novel describes exceptionally well the uncertainty of making such a choice, both for those who ends up with a yes and those who ends up with a no.
The issue is interesting: Why do people become so stressed out over the fact that someone would not want to have children? Never, ever, ever argues that a rich life can be lived in many ways, also without reproduction.
This book becomes more a novel the further you read. It turns from a monologue to allowing other people to make the narrative vivid. And the ending is beautiful, if not to say ugly beautiful. Strømsborg has managed to give her protagonist reflections that go beyond her choosing not to have children because there are many bars to visit and festivals to attend. There are also other interesting things to do with your life. Never, ever, ever is also a novel about the importance of friendship, and the acceptance for the choices of your friends - and not getting the same level of acceptance back from the rest of society. It is all heartfelt, tender and important.