Ilze Berzins
Happy Girl cover

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Illustrated with her drawings, Happy Girl is a true story and the author’s first full-length novel. The cover design comes from a detail of one of her many paintings. Happy Girl is a very personal account of time spent in her native Latvia and has stirred up much controversy in the Latvian North-American reading public due to its frankness and accounts of her personal experiences. At times “dark” the book is also filled with humour and love of nature and of the author’s native land.

Click here to read the first few pages of Happy Girl

Happy Girl (Page 1)

It was on the very last day of September, the day I left Canada for good to resettle in Latvia, that my father’s curt goodbye, an ominous “God help you” unnerved me a little. At the time, I took it to be just his pessimistic self. But perhaps I had acted rashly.

On a muggy Saturday afternoon, after a summer of hectic preparation, I boarded a Finnair jet at Pearson International Airport. I brought with me two battered old suitcases crammed full of things I would need the first few months. I had sealed the suitcases with duct tape, almost encasing them in metallic grey, to discourage theft. One day later, I was across the Atlantic, bound for north-east Europe.

I remember the excitement I felt as we neared our destination. I had imagined what it would feel like so many times, knowing even then, that nothing ever is as it’s been imagined.

Sensing my mood, the man next to me turned and smiled.

“Why don’t you tell me what you’re thinking,” he said.

I shook my head and leaned away, peering out the window. I wasn’t thinking. I was holding my breath, waiting for the first glimpse of the country I had fled when I was two years old.

“Stories, that’s what life is made of,” he had said when everyone else was sleeping.”

I had told him some of my stories. He had told me his.

“Some things are better left as dreams,” I heard him say softly as I closed my eyes to rest a little.

Happy Girl is no longer in print. If you wish to read more, please click here to let me know and I may be able to get it for you.