Reviews of Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam

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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About this Book

Book Summary

The Elegance of the Hedgehog meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower in this novel celebrating being a little bit odd, finding your people, and the power of music to connect us.

For Steffi, going to school everyday is an exercise in survival. She's never fit in with any of the groups at school, and she's viciously teased by the other girls in her class. The only way she escapes is through her music - especially jazz music.

When Steffi hears her favorite jazz song playing through an open window of a retirement home on her walk home from school, she decides to go in and introduce herself.

The old man playing her favorite song is Alvar. When Alvar was a teenager in World War II Sweden, he dreamed of being in a real jazz band. Then and now, Alvar's escape is music - especially jazz music.

Through their unconventional but powerful friendship, Steffi comes to realize that she won't always be stuck and lonely in her town. She can go to music school in Stockholm. She can be a real musician. She can be a jitterbug, just like Alvar.

But how can Steffi convince her parents to let her go to Stockholm to audition? And how is it that Steffi's school, the retirement home, the music, and even Steffi's worst bully are somehow all connected to Alvar? Can it be that the people least like us are the ones we need to help us tell our own stories?

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 ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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...continued

Full Review (578 words).

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(Reviewed by Michelle Anya Anjirbag).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Empathy, identity, and the transformative power of music bind this tale of an atypical friendship between a teenage outcast and a jazz musician.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Empathy, identity, and the transformative power of music bind this tale of an atypical friendship between a teenage outcast and a jazz musician.

VOYA
Although this story will likely not achieve massive appeal, it may catch on with readers who enjoy historical fiction, books about the music industry, or stories with unusual friendships.

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Beyond the Book

Jazz, Sweden, and WWII

Nalen ClubWhile most people might think of Harlem, New Orleans, or Paris when they think of jazz music, Swedish jazz is the thread that binds the past and present in the lives of Steffi and Alvar in Sara Lövestam's Wonderful Feels Like This. Alvar is a jazz musician in 1940s in Stockholm, right before what was considered the golden age of Swedish jazz. One of the things that Steffi explores with Alvar is how jazz was an expression and reminder of the power of life during a very fraught time in history.

Alice BabDespite Sweden's official policy of neutrality throughout the duration of WWII, the war affected the daily life of Sweden's citizens through coffee, gasoline, and other rations. While only briefly touched upon during the book's narrative, ...

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