From School Library Journal
Grade 6–8—Being run over by a bus and living to tell about it is the impetus that pushes young Joel Gustafson do a good deed. Only it doesn't turn out to be as easy as it seems. Anguished by the feeling that he needs to atone for his miraculous escape, he goes from friend to friend looking for ideas about just what his good deed should be. He settles on helping his friend Gertrud find a husband, which is a tall task since she is decidedly eccentric and missing a nose. Joel runs into many roadblocks while trying to enact his plan, testing both his determination and resourcefulness. Fans of Mankell's A Bridge to the Stars
(Delacorte, 2007) will enjoy the reunion with Joel, his father, Sara, and Gertrud No-Nose. Others might be confused by larger-than-life characters in a very simple plot. They might also scratch their heads at the setting—a small town in Northern Sweden in 1957. Also, some of the translations seem more British than American, which could be confusing. This book will not appeal to a broad audience.—Nicki Clausen-Grace, Carillon Elementary School, Oviedo, FL
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The dramatic opening will grab everyone: crossing the road without looking, Joel Gustafson, 11, is run over by a bus––and survives without a scratch, miraculously caught between the wheels. He knows he must do a Good Deed in return for the Miracle. So he decides to find a lover for his adult friend, Gertrude. Unfortunately, he messes up big time. In this companion to A Bridge to the Stars (2007), also translated from the Swedish, the author of the best-selling Kurt Wallender mystery series for adults continues Joel’s story in a Swedish village in the 1950s. The cute, good-deed stuff may appeal more to adults. Joel plays out Old West scenarios, tries writing love letters, travels to the “underworld” beneath the street, and manipulates the old telephone exchange. What young people will appreciate are the timeless messages: it isn’t necessary to go into a forest to get lost; there’s no anger greater than the anger directed at oneself. Grades 5-8. --Hazel Rochman