Review: Child Wonder

Child Wonder

Child Wonder
By Roy Jacobsen
(Graywolf Press, Paperback, 9781555975951, September, 27, 2011, 256pp.)

The Short of It:

A touching, coming-of-age story.

The Rest of It:

Finn and his mother live in a small apartment in Oslo, in the early 60s. She works in a shoe shop and does her best to make ends meet. They are comfortable and happy.  Finn’s father died long ago in a crane accident but he left a little something behind…a daughter. Linda, age 6 and only a few years younger than Finn, comes to live with them. With another mouth to feed, Finn’s mom takes in a quirky lodger.

I’m not sure what I expected when picking this book up but I wasn’t expecting to be completely charmed by Finn. Finn is a great kid. He’s not the most popular kid but he’s not an outcast either. Living alone with his mother has given him a sense of maturity that you don’t normally see in a child his age, but he still possesses that child like wonder that makes this particular age so special.

Finn’s mother is firm, but wonderful and they watch out for each other quite a bit. When Linda comes to live with them, Finn is not sure what to think. Out of nowhere, this half-sister arrives and he immediately sees that she’s not quite right. But there is no jealously here. Just a fierce need to protect her and Finn does exactly that.

What the lodger provides, is a man’s perspective. Something Finn has never had. Although he resents having to have a lodger, he learns to live with the guy because for one, he has a TV and two, he’s nice company for his mother.

Towards the end of the story, something happens that changes the way they live and once again they are forced to readjust to their new lives. I was a bit sad when I read the ending, but as stricken as the characters are, they accept their situation and continue to grow.

There are many things that I liked about this book. It’s a very simple story and because it’s so simple, you can focus on the characters and they are really wonderfully drawn. I liked that Finn was not a babbling child but a child with a good head upon his shoulders. I liked that his mother was not perfect, but was a really good mom. I also loved the development of Linda, the half-sister.

All in all, reading this book was a pleasant experience and reminded me of what it’s like to be a child in a grown-up world.

Note from Ti: This book comes out September 27, 2011, but since I liked it so much, I decided to review it early.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.

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19 thoughts on “Review: Child Wonder”

    1. The mom/son relationship thing did remind me of Labor Day a little bit. There’s a bit more humor…or lightness in this one though.

  1. It sounds like this one was touching for a lot of reasons. I can imagine that I would probably really like this book. It seems to have a really interesting plot, and the characters seem well developed and realistic. Very nice review, by the way!

  2. This sounds like a nice book. Sort of unrelatedly, I was just thinking yesterday that I should tell you that Jim really liked Finn (which you recommended he read) (but he didn’t want to review it because he doesn’t like reviewing fiction).

    1. Oh good. Glad he liked it. Would have been interesting to read his review though, but then again… you don’t want to NAG him!

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  3. Thanks for the great review, Ti! This is one of my favorite books we’ve published, so it makes me so happy when I find other people who like it, too. –Erin from Graywolf

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