In just 104 pages, Victor Jestin’s novella follows the French 17 year old Leonard (pronounced like Leonardo Di Caprio) on holiday with his family at a campsite in France over a super-hot weekend, where the country is experiencing a serious heatwave. He doesn’t realise an evening will change his life forever.
Things have already reached a peak during the heatwave, where from the first page, Leonard encounters young Oscar on the playground swings, hanging from the ropes.
Instantly, Leonard knows he should do something but doesn’t. Oscar dies.
From my brief time studying Law in college, I remember the French Good Samaritan Law where a bystander must help an individual if they believe for them to be in peril or at risk of death, otherwise they can be prosecuted.
Leonard does not help. With Oscar now dead, Leonard takes it upon himself to ‘take care’ of him by burying him in the sand as the hottest day draws to a close that evening, along with Oscar’s life.
Throughout the weekend, Leonard is tense. Without no one aware that Oscar is missing, nor that Leonard has buried the teen, he must continue acting as ‘normal’ albeit on a very hot day.
As can be expected with young beings, hormones, heat and holidays, there are awkward and romantic encounters as Leonard meets Louis, along with Luce and Zoe who he is prompted to ‘engage with’. Not to forget his parents and siblings making things even more awkward when they ask if he is being ‘careful’.
The teenage/young adult encounters seem trivial compared to what Leonard has just witnessed, but the tension soon heats up and the Heatwave gets even hotter. Until serious downpours come down, the campsite floods and the heat subsides on the day everyone goes home back to their normal lives.
The question is, at the end of the weekend, will Leonard confess to what he has witnessed?
It wasn’t exactly a ground-breaking book for me, but did keep me occupied for an evening.
Rating – 3/5
Genre – thriller, suspense, fiction