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Fulast i världen Ingrid Olsson, Fulast i världen (Ugliest in the World)

Rabén & Sjögren,  2013.

Reviewed by Mia Österlund in SBR 2014:1

Review Section: Fiction for Young Adults

We have read it all before. Peer pressure  at school and the agony it causes are  such commonplace motifs in young adult  fiction that they have become the mother  of all clichés. Still, in the skilful hands of  Ingrid Olsson, and filtered through her  sensitive, poetic language, these familiar  motives seem as if captured for the very  first time.

Fulast i världen is the love story of  Simon and Siw. They take it in turns  as the lead character in chapters that  inevitably overlap. One summer, on a  shabby camping site, the two teenagers  fall in love. When Simon begins in Siw’s  class in the autumn, the classroom queen  instantly labels him as a freak. The two  suffer when peer pressure threatens their  emotional bond.

Simon is a swimmer; in the water he is free. Siw is not as privileged as  her friends and has to skip most urban  activities because she cannot afford them.  The theme of social class, which has  emerged so strongly in works by Susanna  Alakoski and Eija Hetekivi-Ohlsson, is to  the fore in Olsson’s novel, too. Fitting into  the ambiguous hierarchy at school and  daring to follow one’s own desire are the  core themes of the plot, which captures  the two protagonists’ longing and shame  effectively and cinematically. 

Olsson, whose poetic novel Ett  litet hål i mörkret (A Tiny Hole in the  Darkness, 2008) was nominated for the  August Prize, is a master of minimalism.  Her short sentences are infused with  intense existential presence. Her voice is  enjoyable to follow. She distils youth. 

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