TITLE: IT’S FINE BY ME
AUTHOR: PER PETTERSON
Details: Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett
Copy received from and reviewed for
Set in the 1970’s in Norway, this is the story of Audun Sletton.
When the book starts Audun is 13 years old and facing his first day in a new school where insists on keeping his sunglasses on all day and refuses to talk about where he came from and his past.
Five years later Audun is the only one of his siblings still living with his mother in a working-class district of Oslo. He is in his last year of school but not sure if that is the place for him. Audun has one good friend, Arvid and shares with him a love of reading and socialist political ideas.
Slowly Audun shares some memories of his life so far with the reader, if not with those around him. We learn about his violent father who disappeared five years ago but could be anywhere, even on his way back to his family. We also find out about Audun’s younger brother and older sister and slowly start to understand Audun’s problems with his life and the world around him.
This is a very good coming-of-age novel. In many ways Audun is a typical teenager, trying to find his place in the world and to understand the actions of those around him. But there are issues in Audun’s life that make him a far from average teenager. The violence that were a dominant feature in his early life, and a devastating loss make him feel more alone in an incomprehensible world than the average teenager does.
The reader won’t always be able to understand or approve of his actions and decisions, but will at all times sympathise with him and will him on, hoping that he will come out at the other side to a brighter future.
At times violent and at other times tender, this is a powerful story, both heartbreaking and uplifting.
I feel this would make a wonderful book for discussion since not everything is explained in detail and several issues are left open to interpretation by the reader.
This is a story that will stay with the reader for some time after finishing the book, with a main character that will provoke all sorts of emotions.