Cover Image: What You Can See from Here

What You Can See from Here

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Member Reviews

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was a strange book. I'm still not entirely sure that I enjoyed it, but if you like books with minimal plot then this is definitely one for you. I did enjoy the almost trance-like vibe of the writing, and the weirdness of the story, but I think the prose sometimes lost me along the way unfortunately. I know that some people will love this one, it's just not my cup of tea!
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This was so good! I would not have found this book without NetGalley, so I glad I was given an early copy. All of the characters felt so real, that when I "turned" the final page, I felt like I was missing someone in my house. The story is a bit unusual, but I recommend sticking it out until the end! You'll fall in love like I did!

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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Clearly, I am an outlier because so many liked this book and I don’t.  It seemed to be a quirky novel that I typically would not read, but I wanted to broaden my horizons given the other positive feedback on this one.  Unfortunately, I found it to be a rather uneventful book that didn’t really keep my interest. It’s not a bad book per se, but I found little motivation to finish this one and did not really appreciate the magical/sci fi elements.   2 stars ⭐️ for this one,  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to review.
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What a strange and beautiful book Mariana Leky has created in What You can see from Here. It's a multigenerational story about a family, but it's also about a community and how they take care of one another. Add in the seeing of an okapi that portends death and some love, and there's a tender literary journey. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
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I’m not sure what to think about this book. At the beginning #whatyoucanseefromhere seemed very disjointed and strange. By the time I got to about the half way point it started to get a little more coherent. I really liked the characters, especially Frederik and Luisa. I general this book seemed open to interpretation and I’m not sure whether that has to do with the translation or the actual story. Thank you to #netgalley and the publisher for this arc to read and review.
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A young girl learns to navigate life and love in her small village. From losing a loved one in her childhood to discovering what she truly wants, she leans on family and friends to help her figure it all out. Author Mariana Leky writes with ethereal prose in the beautiful, quiet book What You Can See from Here.

Luisa knows a few facts for sure: her grandmother, Selma, has been around for so long she must have invented the world. Her best friend, Martin, is the world’s strongest person, even if he’s just a kid like her. And her parents really aren’t suited to be together.

In her idyllic village in Germany, Luisa spends her days doing all the things kids do. She and Martin are inseparable, riding the train to and from school every day and learning everything about life from her grandmother, Selma, and Selma’s dear friend, the optician. Martin’s goal is to become the strongest weight lifter around; he’s been training since kindergarten, after all, and Luisa knows he’ll be able to do it.

Their lives are interrupted by an ominous dream that Selma has. The dream itself is lovely; in it Selma sees an okapi, a strange creature if there ever was one. The okapi doesn’t do anything in particular, but Selma wakes up knowing one thing: within 24 hours, someone will die.

Every time she’s dreamed of an okapi, her premonition has come true. The village being as small as it is, everyone in it learns of Selma’s dream not long after she wakes up. Luisa and Martin get a front-row seat to all the strange effects Selma’s announcement has on the people they’ve known their entire lives.

The optician has loved Selma since the beginning of time itself—Luisa, in fact, is convinced he was there with Selma, inventing the world right alongside her—but he’s never told her. Now he wonders whether he’ll only have a day to do so. Luisa’s mother, Astrid, lets the forefront question of her mind come to the forefront of her life: should she leave Luisa’s father?

Selma’s sister-in-law, Elsbeth, sees an uptick in business. Elsbeth has homegrown cures for everything from wanting to forget someone to any kind of physical ailment imaginable. Never mind that Luisa’s father is a certified physician; at times like these, when the portent of death comes in a dream, the villagers look for answers in unconventional places too.

When the death finally happens, it shocks everyone to the core. Luisa spends the next decade of her life trying to process what the death means, taking in all the love and support everyone around her has to give. Despite other tragedies and hardships, she goes through her days never doubting that she’s surrounded by people who care about her deeply. 

Author Mariana Leky’s book came out first in her native German; its English translation makes its debut here in the States this year, and the prose is gorgeous. At one point, in describing the forest during a moment when a character is in danger, Leky writes:

“The forest was as black as the bow on a funeral wreath. Elsbeth peered into the darkness and longed for a bright, warm, sunflower shade of yellow.”

Later, as Luisa contemplates the arrival of a visitor, she confides:

“Since Frederik’s visit had been getting closer, I’d been eyeing my heart suspiciously, just as everyone in the village kept a suspicious eye on their own hearts after Selma’s dreams. My heart was not used to getting so much attention, and so raced at a disturbing pace. I remembered that the onset of a heart attack is accompanied by a tingling in the arm, but couldn’t remember which one and so both arms tingled.”

The book remains true to its genre; its focus stays squarely on Luisa’s feelings and how she interprets her experiences. While some readers might think the story itself is a little quiet, Leky’s writing will definitely keep those who enjoy literary fiction engaged. Her use of the omniscient voice is masterful, giving readers the opportunity to move from one character to another with ease and endearing all of them to readers by the end. 

Those who love literary fiction will appreciate this one.
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Leky's book is full of magical realism, friends who are like family, some absurd, fablelike elements, and an ongoing exploration of mortality and of living a full life.

Selma has dreamed of an omen, an okapi (a real animal sometimes called a "forest giraffe"). The omen traditionally means that someone in her small West German village is about to die.

As each of her neighbors imagine that they may be destined to end their earthly stay, they struggle with unresolved issues, unspoken desires, secrets, and lies. Those around Selma work to quickly come to terms with their finite existence, and young and old members of the community consider their lives with new eyes.

Yet somehow the village's loss, when it does occur, takes everyone by surprise, and Selma's granddaughter, Luisa, is forever changed by the events that follow. 

There are some absurd elements, magical realism, fables, superstition, and romance in this translation from Leky's original German coming-of-age story. 

While there is extensive exploration of mortality in the text and there are allusions to intimacy, the tone of the book feels geared toward young people. Leky writes about love, loss, grief, and understanding in a lighthearted yet poignant way in What You Can See from Here. 

What You Can See from Here reminded me somewhat in tone--and in its exploration of mortality --of Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune.

I received a prepublication digital copy of this book courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley.
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This was a nice story.. About love and death and a small German Village.. What You Can See From Here, follows a villagers, who still believe in omens. Selma wakes up one morning & sees an okapi.. a sign of death. When word gets out that she saw this, the town all thinks about their lives and their death. Luisa’s, is Selma’s granddaughter and she is concerned with all that is going on. Her mother, is trying to figure out if she should stay married to her father. Her father is traveling around the world for work.. The optician, the name the town calls him, is trying to come to terms with telling the love of his life, he has always loved her. It is amusing to see how all the villagers are trying to dodge death.. This story was good but so slow.. It almost could have been a short story. I don’t know if this was the translation from German to English.. but I did feel like it was slow. But it is honest and at points funny. Who hasn’t contemplated life and death, love and loss? Overall, I did finish and it was good..but???
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This story took me by surprise! Is told from Luisa perspective, Selma’s granddaughter.  First when she was 10 and then when she was 24 years old, she falls in love with a German Buddhist monk (yes, you read that right!) visiting from Japan. Selma dreams about a okapi (had to google what it was, there I said it) and everytime she dreams of that, someone in her village dies. People in the village hear about this, they try to live carefully. It’s honestly a very character driven story and as it evolved, I really enjoyed the characters, the love for each other, their sense of community.
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This books was unfortunately not for me.  I know it’s a translation, and that might have made a difference.  I couldn’t finish it, my apologies. 

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own
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what a sweet book! I loved al the characters, who were well imagined. The story arc was good and the writing very good!
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This is an international story of love, loss, and everything in between.  In a small town, every one either pulls together or everything falls apart.  This family and small town must pull together to overcome tragedy and succeed.
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I initially selected this book as the premise of a dream being a premonition sounded intriguing and interesting, even though it was about someone passing. However, as I read the story, I found that the anticipation of who would die to be too overwhelming, and I had to skip ahead. The author does a good job introducing the characters, and I think I cared for them too much, so knowing one would not live was difficult to read. The writing is good and the plot does have some unexpected twists too. If you can disconnect a bit from the characters, I imagine you will want to read the book.
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Loved this one. A very quiet and touching novel.

Luise is raised by her paternal grandmother, Selma, even though her parents are alive. When Luise is 10, Selma dreams about an Okapi - a strange animal which resembles several different animals. Dreams on this animal signals a death ahead in next 24 hrs. Selma's community is a close knit community and due to this dream everyone is at edge. But then something unimaginable and unbearable happens which effects the whole community. Story follows Luise along with her people in coming years, her life where she gropes the rays of hope, love.

Originally written in German, story narrates life, which goes on despite its brokenness, sadness and also goodness. A wonderful story.

Happy Reading!!
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The book starts with the foretelling of death and that is a recurrent theme, however, it’s an oddly sweet book.  We meet a cluster of people who live in a German village and who are somehow related to Luisa, the protagonist.  Luisa falls in love with Frederick a young Buddhist and suddenly everyone becomes interested in Buddhism. It’s not an action book, it’s a thinking book with a little mysticism and unexpected moments of humor.  When Frederick opened the door to an empty old house, “he was struck by a question, namely if, when you enter an old house, the old house enters you.” Most importantly it’s a story of quirky people who care very much about each other.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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A strange book based around the dream of someone named Selma and an okapi. When Selma dreams about an okapi, someone dies in the next 24 hours. This sets the entire town on edge until the death occurs. Unfortunately it is 10-year-old Luise's best friend who dies, not one of the older residents of the town. The rest of the novel follows the conflicting lives of her mother, who wants to divorce her father; her father who travels the world for long periods of time; her aging aunt Selma and a monk she meets in the woods.
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What you can see from here by Mariana Leky is a 2021 Farrar, Straus and Giroux publication. 

A quaint, touching story-

Luise, due to the rather unusual situation with her parents, is mostly raised by her grandmother, Selma.  Selma has the rather strange strait of dreaming about Okapi, an animal that closely resembles a Zebra. When Selma has one of these dreams, it unfortunately signals pending death -within a 24 hour time span. 

When Luise was ten years old, Selma has one of her dreams, which puts the entire community on edge. Just when everyone breathes a sigh of relief, the unimaginable happens.  

In the days and years to come, as Luise grows older, she must grapple with the big questions of life- grief, love- both familial and romantic- as she observes, and listens to those surrounding her, finding contentment in her surroundings, while pondering adventures outside of her comfort zone. 

This is certainly an offbeat little story. As I understand it, this book was very popular abroad and has been translated from its original German language. The story doesn’t flow in the way I am accustomed, leaping over large gaps in time. It is a little jarring, truth be told, but these wacky characters are so charming, I couldn’t help but fall under their spell.

The book has some strong Buddhist themes, and though I’m not invested in those teachings, the story doesn’t hinge on that. It is ultimately a story of life- and the attitude in which one approaches it. Pain and loss are unavoidable and is something that can’t be handled any one particular way- but must be accepted as a part of life.  There are some genuinely funny segments in the book and the story was wonderfully tender and heartwarming, overall. 

This is another offbeat book I’ve stumbled across this month that might not hit everyone the same way, but I thought it was a delightful story and truly enjoyed it.
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I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!  The story has me by not just the eyes, ears and grey cells - it has me by the core of my soul. . .it is enchanting, engaging, haunting and compelling.  It sat in my TBR list forever until I opened it and then had to be consumed.  I had to know what was going to happen next in this little German village, to Luisa, Selma, the Optician, Elsbeth and all those in their community.  This is a delightfully regional, fantastical combination of the village tales I love:  Miss Read village reports, No. 1 Ladies Detective stories, All Creatures Great and Small, Backman's Ove, Strout's Olive, McCracken's Bowlaway, Penny's Three Pines. . . .I lost count at my many laughs-out-loud, and even, yes, ugly crying.

Funny, quirky, crazy and maze-making that always closed the loop, this book was not the least afraid of the deep and dark, went there and popped back out to report all is well.  Just exactly what I needed this week, today, and what I suspect I need every single day.  I will be buying a hard copy of this one to read and re-read!

This truly is my new No. 1 read for 2021 in the fictional, sorta-mystical, feel-good with just the right kind of romance category!  Seriously.  Read this book!  It will help to keep google warmed up, especially if you need to brush up on genus Okapia.

Thanks to Mariana Leky, Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for an ARC to read and review.
#OkapiDreams #NetGalley
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***3 Stars***

While this book isn’t my normal cuppa tea, it was still a fun, interesting and emotional read whose prose had a flow that made it easy to get lost in and want to see just how Luisa, her family and village would handle each obstacle coming their way and if they would or would not evolve with it.
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I wanted to love it because everyone else did, but I just could not get into it.  I tried multiple times.  In fairness to the author I am not posting to Goodreads because I did not finish the book.
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