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Heart's Delight by Per Nilsson
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Heart's Delight

by Per Nilsson

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Showing 4 of 4
A modern, YA version of The Sorrows of Young Werther, except not nearly as good. And I really didn't like the Goethe, either. ( )
  electrascaife | Oct 1, 2017 |
Excellent portrayal of the anguished feelings of a teen in first love. Booktalks: If ever in your life, love has let you down; if love has shattered your heart so bad you couldn't breathe; if ever love has betrayed you and made you cry like a baby...this story is for you. OR, with props: On a Saturday night about 1 am, a boy has the following items on the desk in his bedroom: a bus pass, a page from a songbook, a postcard, a packet of seeds, a box of condoms, a razor blade, and a bottle of pills. On this night this boy will relive memories about the girl he loved and who betrayed his love and broke his heart. And then...he's going to let her go.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Reading translated works of fiction is always a gamble. Few people reading them ever really know how much meaning and emotion has been lost during the translation process. And as I traverse the landscape of young adult fiction, I don’t come across that many novels-in-translation, which makes me even more suspicious of them than usual when I do. Recently I took a chance with You & You & You, which is Swedish writer Per Nilsson’s second novel for young adults to be translated into English for U.S. publication. It turned out to be a phenomenal read that far transcends the stock teen angst fueling much of the YA market. I would review it here, but I returned it to the library while in a daze, having neglected to first jot down my thoughts.
Instead, I’m reviewing Heart’s Delight, which was Nilsson’s first translated novel to be published in the U.S. The same person, Tara Chace, translated both books, which probably has gone a long way toward preserving consistency in Nilsson’s literary voice. While You & You & You wandered down stray philosophical paths away from more traditional YA themes, Heart’s Delight is quite a bit more straightforward in its thematic focus. It tells a familiar story about the wonder and pain of first love, and how lopsided it can sometimes be. The unnamed character in this third-person narrative falls in love with a girl much more experienced than he is, becomes intimate with her, and eventually suffers the agony of discovering that all is not as it seems.
What sets this novel apart from the five thousand others that cover similar ground is the way in which Nilsson presents the story. Perhaps unique plot delivery is his trademark, as You & You & You also unfolded in an uncommon way. At any rate, the story of the relationship between the two young people in Heart’s Delight is told through the action of the main character playing a movie of it in his head. He is sitting in his family’s apartment, going through the keepsakes he has acquired over the course of their relationship, and as he examines each one in chronological order, the reader sees a few more scenes played out in the tale of what has happened between him and the one he loved, Ann-Katrin.
If it had been related in a more conventional way, this story would very likely have been a boring read. But the fact that the story starts at the end of the relationship draws the reader in, building curiosity along the way about what exactly happened to make this kid so bitter. And then there is the juxtaposition of present action with past action, as the chapters alternate between the boy reacting emotionally to each memento in the present and then the reader learning the stories behind the mementos as told in the past.
To be honest, Heart’s Delight didn’t monopolize my attention quite as effectively as You & You & You had, but it was a quick read and Nilsson’s skill in plot construction kept me interested enough. Above all, the book was yet another reminder that sometimes a story is successful because of the way in which it’s told, and not necessarily because of what it’s about. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
A sweet, touching story of first love and first love lost, familiar to any teenager. I like the way it was told, the movie-script commentary. I liked the ongoing joke of the German grammar book. But I did think the pills and razor blade had no place. Can't we have a first love lost story without a suicide? ( )
  meggyweg | Dec 7, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689876777, Paperback)

Heart’s Delight opens with a 16-year-old boy poised over a desk. He is alone in the room, going through the left over items of a relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Ann-Kathrin. As he systematically destroys each object, he replays a scene from their relationship that relates to it. By the end of this moving story, he has gotten rid of everything; he’s torn up the bus pass from the station where they met, blown the unused condoms into balloons and set them adrift from his balcony, and dropped the pot of lemon balm tea she gave him from the balcony, too. Along the way, Per Nilsson carefully traces their tumultuous relationship, from their first hopeful meeting, to the boy’s loneliness when his family was away and she never called, to her betrayal of him with a rival. Nilsson’s skill in revealing the innermost thoughts of a teenage boy at a vulnerable time in his life made this an award-winning book in Europe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:59 -0400)

As a sixteen-year-old looks at and systematically destroys each of his mementos of Ann-Katrin, he replays scenes from their relationship and realizes that it was not the great romance he believed it to be.

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