The book Provinspis on a table next to a passport.

Provinspis

Author: Ditte Wiese

Published: Carlsen, 2017

Serie: Sonar

Provinspis – the book

Ida is a young girl living in a Danish province. Her mother, who is French, left many years ago after having withered away in Denmark for a long time. Ida mostly feels the same way about the small town that she lives in; it is boring as hell. Luckily her best friend Jon lives only 185 steps further down her street and she is always welcome at his place, which she benefits from on the nights where her own house is filled with the yelling of her dad and his girlfriend. Ida dreams of the day she can leave the town behond and travel out into the world; she just has to finish gymnasiet (high school/upper secondary)! She spends a lot of time working in the local grocery store, in order to save up for the travels she plans. And she needs to survive the boredom, which she does through sex, drugs and alcohol.

But something happens. Like things always do. Finishing her education suddenly doesn’t seem so easy. Being friends with Jon is suddenly not so easy; especially not while he is hooking up with Ida’s only girlfriend. Yet growing up means dealing with these kinds of things, and so Ida does. The only way she knows how.

my thoughts

(be aware of possible spoilers)

I was swept away by Ida and her struggles. To be honest, I don’t think I would have befriended Ida had I known her, which makes me feel sad, because she really needs a proper friend. My heart broke a little all the time she was left on her own. Even when she, in some way, caused it herself. The story is told through Ida’s point of view, which creates a beautiful layered experience, when reading the story, because everything is told through her language. I loved how the book slowly builds up to something, that I had a hard time figuring out, and at times I honestly felt as confused as Ida, which is why I never really believed myself, when I thought I knew what would happen next.

Provinspis is both a beautiful and an awful story about growing up and finding yourself in the world. Ida says: “The meaning of life is to be other places“, which I feel is so essential to the character of Ida. Even when she genuinly enjoys herself in the small town, she needs to get away. In many ways her story reminds me of Edith Wharton’s “Summer”, where the main character Charity constantly searches for the place she belongs; the place she can call home. Ida is searching for the same thing, really. Believing she will find herself, when she gets to the right place. Believing that there is so much of her mother in her, that she will never find peace in a small town in one of the provinces of Denmark.

Should you read it?

Provinspis is an honest story. The language is youthful, which is important since the target group is young adults. Ida is an average girl, who most young adults will be able to identify with. She is strong and outgoing, yet vulnerable and insecure. Everybody can benefit from reading this. The younger ones can maybe identify with Ida or one of the other characters in the book, which can sometimes help them in their own search for themselves. Parents can get some insight into the mind of a young girl, which may help them through their child’s process of growing up. Everybody will get an exceptionally brutally honest and wonderful reading experience, where the more experienced reader wil notice the layers, use of language and how the text combines form and content.

So the short answer is: Yes, you should read it.

The book Ave Eva is placed a the bottom of a tree trunk in a pile of dead autumn leaves

Ave Eva

Author: Sulaima Hind

Published: Høst og Søn, 2003

The book

Eva is a young girl, who has just started school in the Danish gymnasium (Corresponds to starting junior year in an American high school or starting upper secondary school). She lives with her mother and father, although her mother travels a lot due to her line of work. In a lot of ways she is just like everybody else at that age: A little insecure, yet fighting to be herself. She quickly befriends a few girls from her class, who are very proactive feminists. This leads to Eva’s involvement in several violent actions. Back home her mother is mostly away, and her father practically lives in his study, making him almost as absent. Eva deliberately avoids him at meals, yet still enjoys his company when he pops out of his office to refill his drink.

Eva enjoys writing and she does all of her writing on an old typewriter. Her Danish teacher encourages her to write a novel for the school paper, which she does and he offers to read it and help her improve it. They meet at his place one evening, and instead of helping her with her novel he severely violates Eva, who leaves the place completely shattered.

Broken down she tries to move on with her life, but her friends are quick to see that Eva suffers. They finally get through to her, and decide that Eva needs to be avenged. This fuels Eva’s disintegration further and she stays at home, avoids her friends and makes it her sole purpose to care for her father, while her mother is away. However, the horrors in Eva’s life do not end here.

My thoughts

This story is so heartbreakingly beautiful, yet still so horrible and painful. At several times I wanted to reach out and hold Eva or tell her to seek help. Even before she begins to spiral downwards, there is something about her, that seems fragile. I first read this book shortly after it was published, and I loved it back then. Rereading it now made me realise, that there were a lot of things I did not understand or pick up on back then. The story is told by Eva herself, at a time long after the events occured, and she tells it to a man, who we at first do not know. She begins her story: “I was once a girl called Eva…” creating a distance between the woman she has become and the girl in the story. The writing is excellent and even before I finished the book I reserved another one of Hind’s books at the library.

I secretely considered keeping the book (which is stealing, so no I was not being serious), because I can’t seem to find a copy for sale anywhere. This is a book I would love to own, so I can reread it again and again – even after the library has to put the book away, because so many new ones will have arrived.

I strongly encourage all the Danish readers out there to read the book! It is magnificient and works well wether you are 14 or 27 (or 58 probably).

The Winner's Kiss, on a table

The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Curse is the first book of The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski.

I first began reading The Winner’s Curse on my Kindle, but I didn’t get very far into it before I decided that I had to own the trilogy as physical copies. The Winner’s Curse was so good and the books are so pretty! And I am that vain.

It turned out to be a good choice, since The Winner’s Curse was a page-turner, that I devoured over the course of a weekend. The tone’s invigorating and although it is not a revolutionary story, it is a very good read.

The story is about Kestrel, a general’s daughter, who purchases a slave at the local market, even though she doesn’t really condone slavery – or at least not to the extend of her owning a slave. The slave she purchases is Arin, a skilled blacksmith, who – despite being a slave – manages to conduct himself with dignity. Arin is put to work at Kestrel’s father’s forge. At the same time he functions as Kestrel’s personal escort into town. This gives the two of them time to get to know each other.

The Winner’s Curse review: spoilers ahead

As these stories go, of course the one falls a teeny-tiny-bit in love with the other and vice versa, which evidently creates a problem. As I said; nothing revolutionary. I loved this book, though! It has it all: War, love, starcrossed lovers, hurt, hope, friends, pride, and I could go on.

I especially like Kestrel’s fierceness and how her personality embodies both the gentle and the stronger aspects of a person. At times, as with most young characters in stories, I tend to think that she is wise beyond her years, yet at other times, she is as stupid or as self-involved as a regular teenager can be. This is definitely a bonus, since I love when the characters seem ‘real’: Like they could be part of our world. Arin, on the other hand, is difficult for me to grasp. I never really buy the whole “He’s falling in love with her”-part, although it is apparent towards the end of the book, that he has felt this way for some time. He is a very private person, and I completely understand why that is, and that may be why I don’t really get him.

However, I think, that the book could have benefitted from having more thorough descriptions of his affection for Kestrel. And vice versa. Suddenly, I feel like I have not said enough positive things about this book. The Winner’s Curse does deserve to be praised. Although we have heard the story before, and met the characters one way or another, it is a very enjoyable read! I loved every page of it, and do already look forward to reading it again some day.

My summer reads on a table here amongst are Tell the Wolves I'm home, The Girl at Midnight and the Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse.

Summer Reads 2017

I am quite the disorganised reader. My book picks are always pretty random and are pretty much just based on what I feel like reading in the moment. This year, however, I wanted to try something new and did therefore actually create a ToBeRead-list of the books I want to read this summer. My summer reads, if you like, were actually not my picks, but instead I decided to trust a librarian. After the holiday I will go into further details about this, because there is a very specific reason as to why I am suddenly trying to be all organised and practical, and why I let somebody else pick my summer reads for me.

For now, though, I’d like to present to you – in no particular order – the books that ended up in my TBR pile for this summer. Some of the titles are Danish and are not (as far as I can tell) translated into English, but I will provide you with a (somewhat) direct translation of the title, should you not be familiar with the Danish language.

My summer reads in 2017 are (drumroll)

  • Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
  • Regnfaldet (The Rainfall) by Gudrun Østergaard
  • The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse by Fredrik Brounéus
  • De utilpassede (The Maladjusted) by John Kenn Mortensen
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
  • Det bliver pinligt uanset hvad (It will be awkward no matter what) by Tyra Teodora Tronstad

It is a good blend of YA novels and fantasy, which are some of my favourite genres. Despite the fact that these all sound very interesting, I especially have high expectations for “Det bliver pinligt uanset hvad”, “Tell the Wolves I’m home” and “The Girl at Midnight”.

I am so excited to begin these and already wonder if my list is long enough for the summer. But if it isn’t, then I guess it is at least a good start to being a more organised reader.