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This is the story of one young person putting the barrel of a shotgun to the head of another young person. It's the story of how big dreams die hard and little, more tender dreams die even harder. This is not your usual Fredrik Backman book; it has none of the fanciful tenderness, the sentimentality. It's a hard-hitting look at what a town, what its people, what its children will do when the worst happens and you realize you are alone, just you and your ability to look your children in the face saying, "I couldn't protect you", you and your ability to look in the mirror saying, "What does it mean to be human?"
I expected more of a "Miracle on Ice" component but I was sorely wrong and quite happy about it. Backman takes the love of parents, friends, siblings and piles it on; takes the tension and ratchets it up, notch by painful notch until you have nothing to do but look inside yourself and wonder if you can stand any more pain, any more human frailty, any more doubt when there are so many, many shades of gray.
Marin Ireland has a brittle tone, and I wondered why a male narrator wasn't gotten until I realized that the many female characters wouldn't have been done justice to. Ireland gets it right, plus she does male characters quite well. What's more: She doesn't stilt on the passion, and this is a passionate story.
If you're ready for a journey into the heart, mind, soul of a teenager get ready and dive in. If you're ready for a slap in the face, the realization that you'll do anything, anything for your children but be able to keep them safe, tip your toes in and go gently, inhaling as much as possible.
Backman's prose, his story, his style are breathtaking.
81 of 88 people found this review helpful
That's how I feel after enduring this book. I have read three other titles by this author and loved them. This book was very different. Oh yes, the writing was excellent, of course, but the story was painful all the way through.
From the very beginning the reader is set up for a terrible incident to occur. I felt nervous in anticipation. This is not a fun read. It is no fun to wait for something awful to happen. It was bad enough to feel that from the time the story begins, but as the characters are developed and the reader's fondness of them grows, it becomes worse and worse.
I wish I had not read this. I wish I had not put myself through this. I wish I had stopped early on when the story began and I did not feel interested, but continued because I was curious.
This may turn out to be an important book. This may become a movie. This may be studied in sociology or psychology or philosophy classes. But it had me nervous all the way through, and, even with its excellent writing, I wish I had not forced myself to endure it. The way it ended left me without the details I felt I deserved after all that.
I'll remember this story, these characters and their culture. It will, without a doubt, linger for a time. But I wish I had not gone down this path at all. Now I just feel miserable.
56 of 63 people found this review helpful