It’s challenge time again!
My Swedish novel took some choosing, but my blog research led me unfailingly to Jenny Jägerfeld’s Här ligger jag och blöder (I’m lying here bleeding), which I was only uncertain about because of the blood. I even asked advice and was told that, no, it was a bit gory but it wouldn’t make me faint or anything.
I didn’t read chapter one. I squinted carefully at chapter two, before skipping the beginning of that as well. After a day’s rest I tried approaching the beginning of the book by taking a running leap at it, but it was still pretty faint-inducing stuff. But, you know, I could tell from the bits in between the blood and gore that the writing was pretty good and very witty.
I came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with starting a novel halfway through chapter two. Anyway, faint heart never read a challenge book.
Oh, ah, you are wanting to know what caused all this faffing about, aren’t you? Maja, the 17-year-old heroine, is in her sculpture lesson at school, making a shelf for her mother’s impending birthday. (Yes, we know a shelf is no sculpture. It’s a running gag throughout the story.) So, Maja accidentally saws the tip of her thumb off.
But after that little happening things normalise as much as they can for this novel. Maja’s parents are divorced and she lives with her father. The mother is a little distant, to say the least. Maja is occasionally bullied at school, doesn’t socialise too well, and always checks out her father’s email and Facebook. This way you find things out that it might have been better not to know.
With a shorter thumb than before, Maja travels for her ‘every other weekend’ at her mother’s house, only to find her mother isn’t there. She stays anyway, and ends up meeting the boy next-door. He’s not called Justin Case (it has something to do with Justin Timberlake), but it’s a while before we find out who he really is. Also, his friend is not Debbie (Harry).
Maja falls in love, and experiences more mishaps with her poor body. Then she returns home and has some run-ins with her father, people at school and finishes off her non-sculpture, the shelf. Maja finds out where her mother is.
I don’t want to say too much, but let me just mention that this is an Aspie novel (which I didn’t know when I picked it) and that the Aspie aspects were quite obvious from the start, and that for plot reasons it’s been given too much of a dramatic turn. That is the only thing which I found jarred somewhat.
Other than that, Här ligger jag och blöder is a very warm and funny and slightly different story. I suspect it’s fairly typical of current trends in Swedish teen literature, but this was my first. I really enjoyed it, and the writing is intelligent. And fun.
And in actual fact, I revisited the beginning of the story towards the end, and it was almost fine. I must have become sufficiently desensitised by then.