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Borderliners

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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  2,761 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
A haunting story of childhood travail and hope. Strange things are happening at The Biehl School when this elite academy opens its doors to a group of orphans and reform school rejects, kids at the end of the system's tether. But the school is run by a peculiar set of rules, in which every minute is regimented and controlled. The children soon suspect that they are guinea ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Picador (first published 1993)
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Debbie Zapata
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturday
Ever since I read Smilla's Sense of Snow years ago, I wanted to read more by this author, but none of his books were available at my local library in those days. Last year I treated myself to plenty of online buying of used books, and this was one of quite a few Peter Høeg titles I purchased.

It is not an easy book to read. The style is complex and a little confusing, with the narrator using 'I', 'you', and 'one' interchangeably but always meaning 'I'. Once you adapt to that, the reading gets ea
...more
Harry
 photo PeterHoeg_zpsd039f547.jpg
Peter Hoeg

Once you have realized that there is no objective external world to be found, that what you know is only a filtered and processed version, then it is only a short step to the thought that, in that case, other people, too, are nothing but a processed shadow.

This is the experiment. There is no objective reality. Whatever we see is edited by our senses, what we see is nothing but our perception of it. The world exists because we are looking at it. And even other people aren't real, they a
...more
Abailart
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nearly finished. Enjoying most of all the peculiar leakage between moments in the textual flow which disturbs any idea of a neat linear process. The novel is about the tyranny of time, and has some aphoristic points to make, as would any writer dealing with time as content. Neatly done. A flatness of delivery, possibly reverberating with the emotional numbness which affects each character in different ways, then standing out here and there an image, or a sentence or two of vivid clarity.

The teat
...more
Christina
Nov 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you have children, you find out that you have so much to learn. Not all of it makes sense at first. One of the things I’ve had to learn, was how to praise my child. That if your child has climbed high up on top of something and she says ‘look at me’, you’re not supposed to say ‘oh how good you are’ but rather, ‘oh look how high you’ve climbed!’ You do this to praise the action, not the child itself, so the child doesn’t think it has to do such things to have value. I think.

In part, this nov
...more
cristina
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Mi sono svegliato di notte, la bambina si è scoperta, non so se aveva troppo caldo o paura di essere imprigionata. Le ho coperto solo le gambe, così almeno non avrà freddo. E se fosse colta dalla disperazione potrà liberarsi in un attimo. Poi non sono più riuscito a dormire, sono rimasto seduto al buio a guardarle, la bambina e la donna. E allora il sentimento è diventato troppo grande. Non è né dolore né gioia, è il peso, la pressione di essere stato introdotto nella loro vita, e di sapere che ...more
Ginny_1807
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Capolavoro

Quando chi ama leggere si imbatte in un libro come questo, si sente come se fosse stato baciato dalla fortuna.
Un passaggio, tra i moltissimi indimenticabili:

"Il tempo lineare è inevitabile, è uno dei modi per restare aggrappati al passato, come punti su una linea, la battaglia di Poitiers, Lutero a Wittenberg, la decapitazione di Struensee nel 1772. Anche quello che scrivo qui, questa parte della mia vita, è ricordato in questo modo. Ma non è l'unico. La coscienza ricorda anche campi
...more
Susan Emmet
I'd liked Smilla's Sense of Snow, so thought I'd try Hoeg's next book. Dark and frightening, it is the fictional tale (although there are big hints of autobiography) of Peter, without parents, in and out of various Danish "schools" for children in "abnormal" circumstances, without families, without supposed "normal" intelligence. Turns out that Biehl's Academy, where time and space are clearly defined and monitored, is actually part of a Big Deal to weed out darkness/abnormality in humanity. Pet ...more
Cynthia Davidson
"Understanding is something one does best when one is on the borderline,” Hoeg writes in this book. That wisdom can be applied to borderlines of all kinds, and the 'borderliners' who straddle them. In this novel the 'border' is (primarily) between the adult and adolescent worlds, which is inhabited by children at boarding schools, but also by the staff. Some of these adults are misfits, teetering on the border of mental illness. No child in their right mind would want to 'grow up' if it means em ...more
Cynthia Collu
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition



Ci sono dei libri finiti - sembrerebbe - nel dimenticatoio, seppelliti dalla mille cose che nel frattempo ci hanno riempito la vita.
Alcuni di loro, li leggi e non gridi al miracolo, e invece il giorno dopo, una settimana dopo, un anno dopo, eccoli lì, con la forza delle frasi, forse solo una, una soltanto, ma ritorna, ingigantisce, diventa il libro intero e tu ti dici che quello è stato proprio un romanzo memorabile, e improvvisamente senti il bisogno di dirlo a tutti.
Ecco, per "I quasi adatti
...more
Jeanne
Strange book.

Non-sequential (sort of) story line about a boy, Peter, who's been in institutions his whole life. He gets to a school that's being used as an experiment to incorporate both "normal" and "defective" students. He meets a girl, Katarina, who has plans for their own experiment in understanding time. She's recently orphaned. They both take responsibility for another boy, August, who killed his parents. The school's experiment fails when August kills himself. Peter's experiment continues
...more
Ess Wynspinner
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came to this after reading Miss Smilla etc. and wow what an assault it was - I was truly and deeply unsettled by this psychological thriller. So many reviews already have most said. Peter Hoeg is brilliant and translated his works are fantastic - I would love to know what is lost and what is gained in translation of this novel. Seriously good, seriously terrifying, brilliantly written, just fantastic.
Tara
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, my-shelves
First time, in a very long time, that I've felt the need to underline passages...I've kept my pencil by my side. Looking forward to more Peter Høeg.
Stephanie
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book makes a valuable contribution to the literature on the horrors of boarding school, partly for its intriguing focus on time as an instrument of power. One begins questioning one's obedience to the clock, and questioning the culture of achievement in general. I had already been thinking a lot about how my own anxiety about time was affecting my interactions with my children, and had started to reject the tyranny of schedules, as far as children are concerned. As I read, my vague misgivin ...more
Liedzeit
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Sehr zäh. Langweilig, wird erst am Schluß überhaupt erträglich, wo der Icherzähler berichtet, was seit den Ereignissen passiert ist. Eine Schülergeschichte.
Holly
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
A few interesting ideas and Høeg has definitely presented me a lot of things to think about and new perspectives, but overall this book, especially towards the end, felt like a diary of notes where Høeg has written all his opinions and thoughts on certain things and tried to express them all in this fictional novel but instead of making the reader value what he is saying, to me, makes it feel like he's just trying to get his opinions out despite their irrelevance to the story making it a bit mum ...more
Stephanie "Jedigal"
I chose this for my most recent book club selection, based on the synopsis, the high rating, and the fact that I'd seen and loved the movie Smilla's Sense of Snow.

I don't wish to belabor points already raised by so many reviewers before me, so I'll just comment on how I experienced it. To be candid, I didn't like it very much the first time (though I wouldn't have said it was bad). Because I had to lead the upcoming book club discussion, I read it again, and the second time through I really enj
...more
Ruth
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Traveller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Femke
Aug 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simpelweg een vreemd boek. Bizar, verwarrend, met momenten een beetje saai, maar toch intrigerend en op een bepaalde manier goed geschreven. Verwacht je niet aan wat er op de achterflap omschreven staat, het boek gaat dan wel over probleemjongeren die opgenomen worden in het normaal onderwijs, je komt er vrij weinig over te weten. Met flarden tekst die niet altijd evenveel steek houden, plotselinge veranderingen van setting, vage omschrijvingen van gebeurtenissen en weinig diepgang in de persona ...more
Steve
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Low 2. This roman a clef places so much emphasis on the author's philosophical treatment of the nature of time that the characters and plot remain in the shadows and are never fully drawn. Hoeg contrives a plot which has three emotionally scarred children placed in an academy serving as a front for a social darwinist experiment to fictionalise his own childhood experiences of social services, and to moralise on how adults can institutionalise a conceot such as time to condition children to expec ...more
Donatella
E' un libro terribile, una storia di piccoli e grandi soprusi da parte di un mondo che accetta o rifiuta i bambini in base a discutibili parametri e ne considera alcuni adatti ed altri non adatti. Uno strano esperimento "scientifico" estrapola dal secondo gruppo alcuni bambino definiti "quasi adatti".
Storia raggelante e, purtroppo, con precisi riferimenti autobiografici.
Isadora Goudsblom
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, it was deeply enthralling and beautifully poetic. However, it was also very somber and whilst not reading it I found myself wondering off into the world of the borderliners, which trust me, is not joyous.
Alison Fogarty
Good in parts. Dragged in others.
Stephen Hayes
Borderliners is the second book about "abnormal" children I've read this week, the first one being The outcast. The Outcast was about my contemporaries, those who were at school in the 1950s. Borderliners is about those at school in the 1970s, and I remember the 1970s quite well. What do I remember about the 1970s? I saw the film If. I was on the board of governors of St George's School in Windhoek. I was manager of several farm schools in Northern Natal.

Borderliners is set in Denmark. What did
...more
Camille McCarthy
Peter Hoeg's style is simple and yet very deep. This one in particular felt effortless in the way he continuously jumped around in the story line, and yet it wasn't confusing, it just felt like a friend confiding their life's story to you.
I greatly admire Hoeg's subtlety. He shows, in this book, the horrors of rationalizing everything, of judging, of measuring, and of discipline. The school that the characters attend is frightening not because it is so different from the schools we all went t
...more
Cyd
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Disturbing, at times almost too vague, but compelling. Sort of a postmodern Dickensian story of an orphan's struggle to understand himself and his traumatic childhood, as well as his significance in the larger world.
Matīss Rihards Vilcāns
Pēdējās ~30 lappuses ir ∞
C W
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After "Smilla's Sense of Snow," which was incredible, this was disappointing. Hoeg's writing and human insight are always very good, though, so always worth reading.
Missy Crowley
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Changed my life. On my all time top 5!!



"Under duress, psychology and biology have admitted that there is a limit to the conditions to which living creatures may be subjected. That there is a limit to the amount of discipline, hard work, and firm structure that children can bear.

"But mathematics is limitless. Because there are no lower and upper limits, there is only infinity. Maybe this, as they say, is in itself neither bad nor good. But there, where we met it-as a manifestation of time, as f
...more
Angela Mitchell
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Peter Hoeg, who writes these odd, distinct, and incredibly memorable characters.

I discovered Borderliners after reading Hoeg's mainstream hit Smilla's Sense of Snow, and it's a gorgeous book -- at times a slightly dense and difficult read, but it's ultimately become one of my all-time favorites.

With inspired dashes of both Einstein and Darwin, Borderliners is a hugely rewarding book in spite of its occasional dryness, although I should warn you that it's not nearly as accessible or humor
...more
Stenwjohnson
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
Like Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain," Peter Høeg’s 1993 novel "Borderliners" is a meditation on time and its relationship to a highly structured institutional setting, in Høeg's case an elite Danish academy in place of Mann's mountain sanitarium. But unlike Mann's elevated and diffuse work, Høeg's philosophical explorations are grounded in hard experience, with inquiry serving as a means to explore and heal deep personal pain. This is an enigmatic, intellectual novel with unusual emotional he ...more
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Peter Høeg was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Before becoming a writer, he worked variously as a sailor, ballet dancer, and actor. He published his first novel, A History of Danish Dreams (1988), to positive reviews. However, it was Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1992), a million-copy best seller, that earned Høeg immediate and international literary celebrity. His books have been published in more than th ...more
More about Peter Høeg...
“Once you have realised that there is no objective external world to be found; that what you know is only a filtered and processed version, then it is a short step to the thought that, in that case, other people too are nothing but a processed shadow, and but a short step more to the belief that every person must somehow be shut away, isolated behind their own unreliable sensory apparatus. And then the thought springs easily to mind that man is, fundamentally, alone. That the world is made up of disconnected consciousnesses, each isolated within the illusion created by its own senses, floating in a featureless vacuum.
He does not put it so bluntly, but the idea is not far away. That, fundamentally, man is alone.”
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“When you let your mind go blank,' he said, 'or when you stop talking for a long time, something happens. Time becomes different. It goes away. It doesn't come back until you start to say something.” 8 likes
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