Kaikki anteeksi ('Everything Forgiven', free translation) is the debut work of Laura Manninen. It's based in part on her own experiences and is the story of Laura, who falls in love with a man called Mikko. At first he seems perfect but as their relationship develops, everything also starts to go wrong...
It's a book about domestic violence, and while it's by no means the first such work, it is a very important topic. This book is also excellent in the way you can see the evolution of the abusive relationship; at first it seems fine, but later on both Laura and the reader start to see the warning signs. It's a well-drafted story and a very touching book about survival in such a situation.
Both of the main characters were left feeling a little under-developed; the reader doesn't know that much about Mikko because Laura doesn't know much about him either, but Laura herself is also left a little flat, mostly defined through the abuse even though she claims to be a strong and independent person. The book also suffered in my mind because of the very beautiful language; it really 'worked' through most of the book but in some of the parts describing the abuse it felt odd and jarring and only worked to break the immersion. Mikko may be just about to hit Laura, and yet she starts musing about what it is for a woman to be a mother?
The plot was fairly predictable after having read some similar stories before, but books like this are more about the experience anyway. The ending however was a little bit too abrupt and left me wanting a little more, maybe about what happened after. I understand that may not have been the story the author wanted to tell, but I was a little disappointed anyway.
All in all, I gave this 4/5. It was a very strong debut novel about an important subject, and while the stylistic choices strange and the ending weak, it was still very good. I will be looking to any of Manninen's future works.