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Du & jag Katarina von Bredow, Du & jag (You and Me)

Rabén & Sjögren,  2013.

Reviewed by Mia Österlund in SBR 2014:1

Review Section: Fiction for Young Adults

Katarina von Bredow’s first young  adult novel Syskonkärlek (Sibling Love,  1991) led to a heated debate because  it featured an erotic liaison between  siblings. Since then she has written  several award-winning young adult  novels for an enthusiastic readership. Von  Bredow is a renowned spokesperson  for girlhood, always foregrounding girls  and their passions. Love in every shade  and shape, including overt sexuality and  forbidden relations, is her trademark. 

Du & jag is von Bredow’s first attempt  to focus on a boy protagonist. The book  is the first part of a trilogy for tweens.  Andreas, aged 12, is called ‘the professor’.  But at school being cautious, obedient  and intellectual is not a winning concept.  His problems address the obstacles  ordinary boys face in contemporary  Swedish schools. Nonetheless, he is a  sharp observer of the school dynamics,  a trait that informs his love for Alicia  who struggles with her urge to play cool.  Alicia is not alone in being two-faced:  Andreas’s father, who is having an affair  with a former student, is duplicitous,  too. With her vulnerable Bambi-looks in  mind, Andreas calls her the ‘Roe Deer’,  which underscores the contrast between  her and his mother’s robust femininity. 

Both his parents are teachers. The  home is idyllic and supportive, which  is unusual in von Bredow’s otherwise  problem-ridden young adult novels  from before the year 2000. When the  infidelity theme is introduced, the image  of the ideal family begins to crack. Still,  this is no simple divorce story. 

In her sensitive and engaging language,  von Bredow lets her protagonist ponder  how appearances affect all our relations.  Why does everybody seem so false?  How can Andreas’s father cheat and  pretend everything is normal at home?

No tween novel is complete without  a mystery plot – or so it seems – but  here Andreas acts as a detective in  order to find out more about his father’s  two-timing. The next part in the series  will focus on Alicia and will surely be  as intriguing as this novel, and as rich in  psychological depth and contemporary  setting, where the Nordic landscape  with its softening snowfalls and frozen  fingertips add to this richness. 

Other reviews by Mia Österlund

Other reviews in SBR 2014:1

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