Twenty Questions for Gloria
by Martyn Bedford
Gloria is a 15-year-old girl suffering from an early onslaught of ennui from life. Her parents didn’t seem to care one way or another about her. And though they would protest otherwise, their actions speak to the contrary. Some days, Gloria didn’t care. But lately, she’s been having a difficult time ignoring the resounding loneliness that echoed in the hallways of their home.
Then Uman showed up; a mysterious specimen of a boy. Tall, lanky, and handsome in an effeminate way. Intelligent with charisma that puts everyone in some sort of spell. It just so happens that he seemed to have taken an interest in her as well. For days he hounded her until he inexplicably lost interest. Arbitrarily, that’s when Gloria’s fascination with him grew, and their friendship took a new form. When Uman suggested leaving everything behind, Gloria didn’t even flinch. With a tent, a few quids, and a deck of cards to guide their way, Gloria and Uman embarked on a journey to free themselves from their shackles: Uman, to a tremulous past. And Gloria, to an unremarkable existence.
Twenty Questions for Gloria throws you into a shroud of secrets and mysteries right from the get-go. When Uman walked into the picture, my thoughts quickly veered towards paranormal persuasion because his charm and wit were unusual for his age. It doesn’t help that he can’t seem to say a single truth about himself, and has an uncanny ability to persuade everyone around him to do his bidding. It was as if everyone was under a spell. But as you delve deeper into the story, you’ll learn why he is what he is.
The storytelling followed the questions being asked by the detective inspector in charge of investigating the disappearance of Uman. There was some British colloquialism used but they barely impede the rhythm of the story. When Gloria came back (relatively in one piece), she knew that she’ll never be the same person she once was. Throughout the exposition, Gloria and her mother would face some home truths about each other and their family as a whole. While Uman was judged as the instigator in the beginning, some light would be shed as to just how much involvement Gloria contributed to the events that happened in days that they disappeared. Each question is answered in a form of revelation; exposing the parts of Gloria and Uman no one knew – not even themselves.
There are so many reasons why this book had me in its trance. Uman is a very charming character. He was fascinating in such a way that one would be fascinated by a sociopath. I also needed to know where he ended up, and how Gloria found her way back home. The life of a vagabond is full of strife. Even more so if you’re only 15.