Helene Guåker: DANGER. HIGH VOLTAGE.

Cover of "Danger High Voltage"

Høgspenning. Livsfare.
Published by Samlaget, 2020

A story about living as a roommate with your sick mother
Lea is in her second year of high school. She lives in one of her school’s onsite apartments and has zero friends. Back home on the farm, Mum never gets out of bed. No matter what Lea does or says, her mum just won’t get up.

In order to make friends, Lea relies on Vilde. Vilda is so smart and funny and cool. She doesn’t have a sick mum. Vilde can hook up with Halvor, too. Vilde can do anything in the world. But then something happens that makes Vilde disappear, and Lea can’t just be someone else anymore.

215 pages.

The novel is nominated to the Brage Prize (given by The Norwegian Publishers’ Associaton). The jury’s consideration: “After Lea moves into a bedsit when she starts sixth-form college, her mother takes to her bed with depression. The situation at home weighs on Lea’s mind, making it difficult for her to fit in at her new school. She responds by creating an alter ego, becoming cool and funny. But, as the book’s title warns, danger is afoot. Danger – High Voltage is about life’s transitions, about crises and mental health. It is also about being young and finding out who you are when everything you’ve taken for granted turns out to be different – when ‘what’s actually home feels more like away’, as Lea puts it. Using short sentences and well-chosen words, Helene Guåker conveys complicated feelings both in and between the lines.

The book is easy to read, easy to become absorbed in and brings the reader right up close to Lea’s thoughts and feelings. Her mother’s condition is also portrayed as Lea experiences it – through frustration, compassion and persistent attempts to restore her mother to health. In this way, the book portrays the illness in a way that is both credible and nuanced. However, Danger – High Voltage also deals with friendship and love,honesty and courage. Lea is in a challenging situation, yet she also emerges as a strong, empathetic young girl who does her best to fit in at school, find friends and get to grips with life. As a result, the book offers both tension and danger while also living up to the P. O. Enquist quotation that is the book’s epigraph: ‘One day we shall die. But all the other days we shall be alive’.

Read sample in English here (PDF, 70 kB)

Helene Guåker (b. 1983) has written multiple books for adults and young people in various genres. In 2017 she received a nomination for the Brage Prize for her young adult novel, Sveiseblink.