Lilla Piratförlaget, 2013.
Reviewed by Mia Österlund in SBR 2014:1
Review Section: Fiction for Young Adults
Thirteen years ago, Sara Kadefors won the August Prize for her young adult novel Sandor slash Ida (2001), a spot-on story about an unlikely friendship between a solitary boy and a gregarious girl, and their pained thoughts on growing up in contemporary Swedish society. In Lex bok, she returns to the same motif and a similar friendship.
Lex is an outsider who refuses to be branded by society. Her father is in prison and her mother tries to heal herself through Zumba dancing. When her mother brings home a new partner, Bruno, an unsuccessful author of fiction for young people, Lex does her best to end the relationship by feeding Bruno the ‘true story’ about her abusive upbringing. Fuelled by frustration, she and her male friend start a blog that combines selfies with a sentimental life story about a broken girl. The blog becomes a huge success and, as it happens, a means for Lex to overcome her self-chosen passivity and repressed problems.
Today, the plots of young adult fiction often reflect the fact that social media occupy so much of the daily lives of teenagers. Kadefors’s portrait of a girl outsider in baggy clothes and hoodies, who manages to become a blog fashion icon, is a convincing depiction of contemporary girlhood aspirations. The novel is entertaining, yet raises serious questions about our neo-liberal, entrepreneurial society. Kadefors has also written a meta-novel: her mockery of the young adult novel genre is brilliant. Reshaping the typically problem-oriented tendency of young adult novels, she raises generic questions such as: ‘How will the genre survive?’ Through Lex’s blog, Kadefors gives the girl a voice of her own, which also raises questions about who has the authority to write about young people.
Lex embraces negativity. She belongs among other lying and manipulating girl characters, such as Monika Fagerholm’s post-modern heroine Diva. Simultaneously a negative outsider covered by a hoodie, a blog fashionista and a competent storyteller, Lex provides an updated and intriguing portrait of young femininity, as well as of the young adult genre itself.