One New Year a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love …

When the Snow Fell by Henning Mankell

A coming of age novel set in a small lumber town in northern Sweden during the 1950s.

Joel’s mother left when he was seven, so he’s grown up looking after himself and his father, who’s prone to the odd bender and never has any money. Joel has reached the age when hormones are kicking in and he’s interested in girls, but doesn’t know what to do so he’s made himself some New Year’s resolutions, one of which is to see a naked woman. Sonja, the new assistant in the store would be his ideal, but she’s too old for him … what’s a boy going to do? I won’t spoil the fun by elaborating further!

This novel for teens from the creator of the fantastic Wallander detective series, is a gentle thing and nothing much happens for most of it. Yet it is suffused with testosterone as teenager Joel learns to control the powerful emotions that are starting flow. Mankell’s style is similarly thoughtful to his crime novels, as he explores what it is like to be a teenager. It’s a bit ponderous in places but does have moments of humour and pathos. Whether it’ll appeal to readers brought up on action and adventure, I’m not entirely sure.

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