The Doll’s Heart is a light but moving book that follows the life of young Nina and her doll Widu as they learn about making and losing friends, about fear and how to deal with it, and about death and loss. Much of the charming humour derives from the fact that Nina and the reader can hear the doll, while Nina’s parents and other grown-ups cannot.
With oral narrative at its roots, the book is episodic, frequently setting story within story. Widu the doll is fascinated by Nina’s desires, her fears and her anger, which all live in her heart and which Widu cannot fully understand. In the last episode, Nina falls seriously ill. Since she would not be able to save her friend otherwise, Widu decides to get herself a heart. But this has serious consequences: by making her mortal, it means that she will die when Nina becomes an adult. The story, though, suggests that this might never happen.
Schami has the rare gift of addressing difficult subjects with a charming lightness. The Doll’s Heart is at once a collection of bedtime stories and a consideration of how fantasy and fiction interweave with reality.