“A Resounding reunion with the friends from Waffle Hearts
Strong feelings, great drama and a real way with words
This book is one that I feel like reading aloud, chapter by chapter, to everybody around me. It has an exciting plot, drama between the characters, and humour in almost every line.
After her two previous books – Waffle Hearts (Vaffelhjarte) in 2005 and Astrid the Unstoppable (Tonje Glimmerdal) in 2009 – Maria Parr (36) from Sunnmøre, on the west coast of Norway, was proclaimed the shining new talent in Norwegian children’s literature. Then nothing was heard for a while, and it is easy to imagine that ideas were tried and rejected amidst a fear of failure. So it is a real pleasure to report that Parr is back and is surpassing herself, offering us more of what we have grown to love, while at the same time expanding the world of the children she writes about.
We are back in the small hamlet of Mathildewick Cove, a ferry journey away from a town that could be Ålesund.
Trille and Lena were nine years old in Waffle Hearts. Now they are twelve, Trille is still the first-person narrator, and we follow them through a year at school. Their world is larger, and the events that happen are more serious.
In one plot thread, we find out more about when Trille’s grandfather was a young man, and how he fell in love with Trille’s grandmother; in another, we see Lena’s new football coach giving her so few opportunities on the pitch that she decides to move to a team in town instead.
The new girl in the class, Brigitte from the Netherlands, also causes some commotion. Trille would like to be with her, but he is also ashamed of neglecting Lena and his grandfather. And he is really astonished that Brigitte can see any good in the class bully, Kai-Tommy.
Along the way, there is time for broken arms, fishing trips, secrets, airgun accidents, a school concert, and an Astrid Lindgren reference when Trille’s little sister is hoisted up the flagpole.
Birth, love, and the sea
If there is anything to pick holes in from this book, it might be the penchant for melodrama. The main characters are in mortal danger on the waves two or three times, and Trille’s baby sister is born during a heavy winter storm. Still, this is also probably the book’s greatest strength. The drama is well integrated and realistic, and the reader can feel the grave seriousness of the situations.
Lena emerges as an even more ambiguous character. At her worst, she is self-centered, short-tempered, and sulky. At her best, she has a heart of gold (XL size). It is easy to see how the calmer Trille can feel frustrated and confused.
Best in practically all aspects
The Goalie and the Sea fulfils most criteria of literary criticism. The language is rich and varied. The composition, ensemble of characters, and dramatic structure work well. Parr dares to take all the corners at full speed with even more sincerity, more drama and, not least, even more fantastic new words and expressions. […]
I enjoyed most of all how Parr lets her characters and readers think, learn, and grow as a result of everything they go through. We see honest children struggling with big questions, and coming out of it all with greater self-awareness and greater respect for other people.
This book is full of wisdom, beauty and emotion, and it is quite likely that Maria Parr will see in the new year with several more literary prizes on her mantelpiece.”
(Reviewed by Morten Olsen Haugen, Aftenposten 13 August 2017)
“The sequel to Waffle Hearts: binge-reading!
The sequel to Waffle Hearts does not disappoint. Maria Parr’s writing is lively and humorous, creating a safe universe it feels good to inhabit. […] Your heart also beats more calmly and happily when you read Maria Parr’s books. …This novel uses language inventively and is filled with funny alliterations and playful comparisons. … Lena Lid and Trille deserve many readers and many books. Through her writing, Maria Parr conjures up wild and beautiful western Norwegian scenery and appealing characters we would like to follow in book after book. “
(Reviewed by Kristine Isaksen, VG)
“Speed and self-confidence
Maria Parr has proven again that she is in a class of her own as a children’s author. This charm bomb of a story will bring out laughter and tears in children and adults alike. … It is an exciting story, and the first time you read it, you will at times find yourself on the edge of your seat, hoping that everything will turn out well. Maria Parr is not afraid of writing about difficult topics, such as death: can it happen at any time? This grown-up reviewer shed several tears while reading – tears of sympathy and recognition – which were soon replaced by smiles and laughter. … Maybe it is here, more than anywhere, that Maria Parr’s magic lies: not in her use of language, even though that is terrifically good, or in the story, which is also unbearably exciting, but in all the layers she works into it, in the way she surveys the depths of what makes up life. Fun, excitement and humour, but also serious matters, insecurities and sorrow. Life and death. Maria Parr writes about children, but her books are really about all of us.
The Goalie and the Sea is a brilliant book for children, and is perfect for grown-ups too.”
(Reviewed by Gerd Elin Stava in Dagsavisen, 16 August 2017)