☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆
About the Book:
Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.
For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:
1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”
2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.
But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.
When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all…
We are all legends of our own making.
When We Were Vikings has been likened to The Curious Incident of the Barking Dog and Eleanor Oliphant is Just Fine, but I found the only similarity to be that the main characters are “on the spectrum” and yet, bravely persevere.
Zelda is a Viking enthusiast. She also suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. While she takes all inputs quite literally, it is obvious that she is high functioning given her interactions with her peers at the community center where she spends much of her day. She uses Viking lore to create her rules/boundaries and her life trajectory.
She and her brother, Gert, muddle through life together. Gert is an incredibly kind older brother, but his lack of options lead to desperate, bad choices. My heart went out to Gert; at a very young age, he has taken on the role of caregiver to his sister. Regardless of misguided choices, his heart is full of love for Zelda and his intentions are always for the benefit of his sister.
Some of the controversial issues covered in the book will create excellent book group discussion. Mr. MacDonald respectfully presents the various sensitive topics. The story is filled with quirky characters and despicable caricatures (the antagonists). The plot of When We Were Vikings is straightforward and well-paced. I did find some of the plot points to be highly unbelievable. I loved the message about Zelda being charge of her own life as well as her lovely view of her “tribe”. I found When We Were Vikings to be mildly amusing and at times heart-warming story of family and community.
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