*Winner of the prestigious Norwegian Booksellers' Prize*
*A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection (Holiday 2011)*
A glorious evocation of a Norwegian childhood in the early sixties by an author short-listed for the 2009 Dublin IMPAC Award
Little Finn lives with his mother in an apartment in a working-class suburb of Oslo. Life is a struggle to make ends meet, but he does not mind. When his mother decides to take a lodger to help pay the bills, he watches with interest as she freshens up their small apartment with new wallpaper and a sofa paid for in installments. He befriends their new male lodger, whose television is more tempting to him than his mother would like.
When a half sister whom he never knew joins the household, Finn takes her under his wing over an everlasting summer on H��ya Island. But he can't understand why everyone thinks his new sister is so different from every other child. Nor can he fathom his mother's painful secret, one that pushes them ever farther apart. As summer comes to a close, Finn must attempt to grasp the incomprehensible adult world and his place within it.
Child Wonder is a powerful and unsentimental portrait of childhood. Roy Jacobsen, through the eyes of a child, has produced an immensely uplifting novel that shines with light and warmth.
Jacobsen's (The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles) latest novel reveals a vanished way of life while rambling and indulging in nostalgic reveries, most of which are written in precious prose that strains credulity. Young Finn and his mother, Gerd, live in a small flat in a working-class suburb of Oslo. Having divorced Finn's father (who later died in a shipyard accident), Finn's mother works in a shoe shop and takes in a lodger for extra money. Kristian, a coarse but affable workman, gets the room, but not before Finn's father's second wife (a desperate drug addict) responds to the ad and leaves Finn and his mother with Finn's six-year-old half-sister, Linda (who has been drugged by her mother). As her loyal brother, Finn defends her from Kristian, the educational system, and bullies at school. The portrayal of Linda's evolving relationship with Finn and Gerd is genuinely touching and the working-class Norwegian milieu compelling, but Finn's reminiscing often becomes cloying: "our eyes just became bluer and bluer as the summer wore on, the most everlasting of all summers." If there are fans of homily encrusted stories set in Scandinavia, this will be their book. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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September 26, 2011
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