BookBrowse Reviews Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Wonderful Feels Like This

by Sara Lovestam

Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam X
Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 2018, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A novel that celebrates being a little bit odd, finding your people, and the power of music to connect us.

High school is hard; or perhaps, more accurately, growing up and finding oneself is hard. This is one of the truest universal experiences for us – no matter in what country or what era we come of age. Sara Lövestam's first US novel, Wonderful Feels Like This, explores two musicians growing into themselves in two different times, connected by the love of jazz that they share. Steffi is a young girl in 21st century Sweden who survives daily bullying by focusing on her music, especially jazz. One day, on her way home from school, she hears her favorite musician playing her favorite composer's music through a window in a retirement community, and befriends Alvar, an elderly man who was a jazz musician in Stockholm during WWII. This meeting blossoms into the friendship that both Alvar and Steffi desperately need; connected through jazz, the music of outcasts, Alvar's stories of his past fuel Steffi's dreams for her future.

Steffi visits Alvar regularly, and as she pushes him to tell her about his life as a musician in the early days of Stockholm's jazz scene, she finds a space to start speaking honestly about her own experience in her small school. She begins to look at music as her way into something larger. Alvar's stories and encouragement help Steffi find the confidence to audition for a music school in Stockholm, and the strength to finally face her tormenters. Alvar also helps her look at cycles of bullying as she traces where the threads of his history blend with her own. In return, she gives him a refuge beyond his music, by listening with him and sharing her own music. Thus, Alvar's life, like his music, will go on and be remembered by someone who truly understands what drove him to leave home and start playing jazz in Stockholm during WWII.

The power of this book is that it is simultaneously disorienting in myriad ways while still remaining approachable in its exploration of the universal human experience. For a non-Scandinavian native English-speaking reader, despite being written in English, there is just enough culture shock, just enough difference in the ins and outs of daily life, that the reader's attention is drawn to how Steffi's experience is different, but also how some things, such as bullying, feeling isolated, dealing with people who don't understand you, and fearing pursuing dreams are the same for everyone, everywhere. This experience of "different but the same" is reiterated in the stories Alvar narrates from his past. A young man from a small town, his dreams get him thrown into the world of hepcats and pomade and the pursuit of perfect moments when, at any moment, life could be altered irrevocably by events beyond anyone's control.

If the book has any weakness, it is that there were moments where Lövestam could have pushed some scenes further. Instead of giving the reader only a taste of Steffi's psyche in some of her challenging moments, she could have given readers more detail that they would certainly be able to empathize with. Exploring some darker themes more fully might have added a layer of depth that is often skimmed but never quite reached. However, it is almost fitting that a text about two people motivated to learn more, to strive for more in their lives, and who chase fleeting, perfect moments through music, ends without stopping for too long on life's challenges, and leaves readers wanting more from Sara Lövestam.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in May 2017, and has been updated for the August 2018 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Jazz, Sweden, and WWII

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Wonderful Feels Like This, try these:

We have 11 read-alikes for Wonderful Feels Like This, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Hello Beautiful
    Hello Beautiful
    by Ann Napolitano
    Ann Napolitano's much-anticipated Hello Beautiful pulls the reader into a warm, loving familial ...
  • Book Jacket: The West
    The West
    by Naoíse Mac Sweeney
    It's become common for history books and courses to reconsider the emphasis on "Western Civilization...
  • Book Jacket
    A Death in Denmark
    by Amulya Malladi
    Can a mystery novel be informative, intriguing and deeply comforting all at once? Amulya Malladi ...
  • Book Jacket
    Shrines of Gaiety
    by Kate Atkinson
    A few years ago, magazines ran pieces about how the 2020s were likely to be the 1920s all over again...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Pieces of Blue
    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    A hilarious and heartfelt novel for fans of Maria Semple and Emma Straub.

  • Book Jacket

    Paper Names
    by Susie Luo

    A propulsive and sweeping story of family, identity and the American experience—for fans of Jean Kwok and Mary Beth Keane.

Win This Book
Win Such Kindness

30 Copies to Give Away!

Few writers paint three-dimensional characters with such verve and humanism.
Booklist (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

S I F A R Day

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.