Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

After I had finished all the books I brought with me on vacation, my mom lent me Britt-Marie Was Here. I didn’t know what to expect, but I read it, mainly just to have something to read.

It deserves more credit than that. Like A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman focuses on the real lives of people for this novel. Brit Marie had left her husband and went searching for a job. But the last job she had was when she was in her teens. And the woman at the unemployment office was not too helpful.

Until she got Britt-Marie a job in Borg, as the caretaker of the recreation center which was about to be shut down, along with the rest of the town. Borg was not a place that Britt-Marie, with her sophisticated ways and obsession with cleaning, would ordinarily have visited. After all, moments after arriving, she was hit in the head with a soccer ball. What a warm welcome!

Britt-Marie comes to realize that there can be a place in your heart other than the familiar life you are used to living. There can be room to love children who have lost everything. There can be room to learn to love soccer, not necessarily for the sport, but for the ability for the players to move on, even after crushing defeat.

Britt-Marie Was Here was a touching novel. I loved the transformation of watching an older lady, seemingly set in her ways, change and help the people around her, despite her lack of worldly experience up until that point in her life. I definitely recommend checking this novel out!

– Leila S., 12th grade

Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Teen Read Week: The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson

ritesandwrongs_joannapearsonHave you ever watched Mean Girls? Or read anything pertaining to the stereotypical cliques found in modern high schools?

Well, that is exactly what Janice Wills, an amateur anthropologist describes in this thought-provoking novel. Janice is a self-taught anthropologist, who is conducting research on the students and people in the Southern town of Melva, North Carolina. She became an anthropologist to distance herself from others, but this has led her to become a person she doesn’t want to be, someone who makes fun of the flaws of other people. But through the events leading up to the Melva Miss Livermush Pageant, the rite of passage for all girls in the town, Janice experiences a welcome change in attitude.

This change was my favorite part of the novel. Often, it is hard to see how we appear to other people. In Janice’s mind, everything she said was from the point of view of “anthropology research.” But as her friends point out, her words are hostile. These comments give Janice an opportunity to reflect on who she is and who she wants to be, ultimately causing her to change. I loved the description of how she viewed other people after she changed, because it made me feel optimistic about the world.

Though this novel was a very simple read, it did make me think. A lot of points that Janice makes are very accurate. For instance, the way that people from different levels in the hierarchy treat each other not only connects to other literature on the topic, but also to some of my own experiences. If you’re looking for a short book to read, I definitely recommend checking this out. Though the pages fly by, the themes remain relevant long after the book ends.

– Leila S., 10th grade

The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Public Library.