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When the Snow Fell by Henning Mankell
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When the Snow Fell (1996)

by Henning Mankell

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Joel Gustafson is growing up. Now 14, he's taking charge of his life, starting with three resolutions after the first snowfall (which he designates as "new year") which include seeing a woman dressed only in veils as well as toughening himself up to be able to travel and see the world. Joel has progressed from a remarkably naive boy to a remarkably typical teenage boy. Joel is not always behaved nor polite nor is he always rude and unmanagable. Mankell is a gifted writer, and manages to make a decidedly uncharming teenager engaging enough to follow through these adventures. ( )
  Prop2gether | Sep 9, 2011 |
Reviewed by Kira M for TeensReadToo.com

On the first snowfall of the year, 14-year-old Joel always makes his New Year's resolutions.

This year he's made three: live to be 100, patch up his relationship with his father, and see a girl naked.

Life keeps getting in the way, however, of him reaching his goals. His father is a lumberjack who goes on drinking binges and seems unhappy with life. His mother abandoned them years ago. To add to his plate, he's trying to navigate girls, first kisses, bullies, and having a crush on an older woman.

Will Joel reach his resolutions amongst all his problems?

A slower-paced book, but the author does a good job of constructing its main characters. The plot is intriguing and will appeal to middle school boys, who will be able to relate to Joel's struggles. Readers who like realistic fiction and coming-of-age stories will enjoy reading WHEN THE SNOW FELL. ( )
  GeniusJen | Nov 1, 2010 |
Joel Gustafsson is reaching his 14th birthday. He lives in the north of Sweden by an icy river with his father Samuel. They have very little money and winter is here and the snow is falling.

But Joel is growing up and he makes 3 new year resolutions.

His first is that he wants to live to 100, and in order to do that he must toughen up his body.

His second is that he wants to see the sea. He knows in order to do this he needs to persuade his father to move away and that will not be easy.

His third and the most difficult for Joel is to see a girl naked.

The story tells of Joels daily life which revolves around his desire to implement his new year resolutions. To move away he will need money and he knows two ways of making it, selling caravans or becoming a rock star, now which will be the easiest........How can he make his body tougher...... and which girl shall he choose and how will he persuade her.....

A charming story which I recommend to anyone from 14 to 104. It is only 219 pages and you will not want to put it down until you finish. Guaranteed. ( )
  dianestm | Sep 8, 2009 |
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. 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 a new year's resolution amongst others 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?

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 in the back of beyond. ( )
  gaskella | Apr 8, 2009 |
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Now almost fourteen, Joel becomes a local hero to his small Swedish town when he saves an old man from freezing to death in the woods.

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