Excerpt from Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Wonderful Feels Like This

by Sara Lovestam

Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam X
Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2018, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag

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CHAPTER 1

Steffi is becoming happy jazz. She lies on her striped bedspread, eyes shut, while deep down inside, she's turning into an upbeat happy blues, a going-crazy-with-happiness blues. All the stupid people vanish into a fog far beyond her window; they're nothing now as she walks the bass line with her guitar. She rubs away a few tears, which have mingled with the hair at her temples. Povel Ramel sings: Just slap them away like a mosquito! Who cares what they say? Get on with your own show! She's singing along with his hit "A Happy Blues." She takes a deep breath and no longer gives a damn about any of the other kids in class 9B. The bass player works the blues line like a madman. It's one of the most difficult walking bass lines on the whole record. As if there were no rules, as if you could play exactly what you wanted, but she hasn't yet figured out how.

When she finally leaves her room, nobody can tell that she's been crying. Mamma puts a dish of fish in white sauce on the table, Pappa is throwing out the box the fish came in, and Edvin is getting out the tableware.

"Can you get Julia?"

The door to Julia's room is closed. Steffi walks right in.

"Hey, would it hurt to knock?" Julia yells and then into the phone: "It's just my nerdy little sister." She turns her head to Steffi again. "One day you'll walk in here and see something you really don't want to see." A laugh comes from the phone.

"Time to eat," Steffi says.

"I need to finish this."

"She needs to finish her call," Steffi reports back to the kitchen, and her father gets up from the table with a sigh.

Edvin does not want to eat the fish or the potatoes. He swirls the sauce around with his fork and eats a little of it with a bit of lettuce and a tomato. The struggle to get Julia to the table transforms into a fight to get Edvin to eat at least one bite of fish.

"You're eight years old." Mamma sighs. "Eat it now and you won't have to eat it later. You can't live on gravy alone; you'll get dizzy."

Edvin laughs at the image. "Like thiiiiis?" he asks and flops his head from side to side again and again.

"Just eat."

Edvin clamps his mouth shut. Julia has started to text under the table. Steffi swallows a bite of fish with potatoes.

"Think of it like this," she says to Edvin. "Potatoes are precious like gold."

Edvin looks at her skeptically. "No, they're not."

"More like gold than tomatoes. Look at your plate. What looks the most like gold?"

Edvin cuts a tiny piece of potato and stuffs it in his mouth, swallowing it with exaggerated effort. "It doesn't taste like gold."

"That's because you're eating it all alone. If you eat some fish with it, it'll have more gold flavor."

Pappa gives her a grateful look. Mamma is asking Julia where she bought her mascara, and when Julia doesn't reply, Mamma asks Steffi about her day at school.

"Fine," Steffi mumbles. She's concentrating on her potatoes and fish. When the thought of the girls in class 9B forces its way into her mind, she slaps it away just like she'd slap away a mosquito. She is a happy blues, as cool as cool can be.

"I can tell our last semester is coming," she says. "We're getting a project."

"Sounds fun," Pappa says. "How exciting."

"Don't act so surprised," Julia says. "When I was in ninth grade, we had a project, too, remember?"

"Yes, well…," Mamma says. "What fun that you get to do one, too. Have you picked out a topic? Or does the teacher assign one?"

"I don't know yet," Steffi says. "I'll have to see."

Edvin plumps both elbows down on the table. "This. Does. Not. Taste. Like. Gold."

*   *   *

Steffi has stopped logging in to The Place, although sometimes she'll go back just to see what's happening. But then she'll delete the guest book comments, trying not to read them, but she always does. She tries not to feel hurt by the words whore, dyke, and disgusting, but she is. She's never been a prostitute, she's never been in love with another girl, and she takes a shower every day, but the feeling of being dirty seems to come with the words. She's definitely stopped going to The Place. She's done that many times. Today she's not even going to start.

Copyright © 2013 by Sara Lövestam. Translation copyright © 2017 by Laura A

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