gone case: A. Someone or something which cannot be rectified or redeemed. B. Irredeemable, irreparable, not rectifiable, too far gone.
- from A Dictionary of Singlish and Singapore English
I came across Gone Case by chance at a bookstore. What caught my attention was the very local-sounding title. As expected, the contents are indeed very local, so this is a book Singaporeans can easily relate to. I’m not saying that a foreigner won’t be able to enjoy this. In fact, I think this is a good read for anyone (local or foreign) as the story speaks volumes about Singaporean society.
Set in a Housing Development Board (HDB) estate, Gone Case presents the experience of growing up in Singapore as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, Yong. Juggling school life and taking care of his younger sibling, Yong has to deal with family troubles, a gang in his neighborhood, infatuation, and challenges to a close friendship.
Dave Chua (writer) and Koh Hong Teng (illustrator) have accomplished an amazing job of letting readers feel the emotions of the characters. The narrative flows so well that I felt like I was watching a movie. A picture does indeed say a thousand words here as I enjoyed those moments when I could dwell on the details of each frame, often finding something close to my heart. Koh’s illustrations are detailed and clean, giving the reader enough room to digest everything in the frame, ultimately creating greater impact.
Though the narrative is a simple one, it is both powerful and moving, invoking memories and inviting us to reflect on our own relationships, which we sometimes take for granted.
Gone Case is based on Chua’s novel of the same name which won the Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award in 1996. Highly recommended.
Contributed by Hwee Fang