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When the Snow Fell Hardcover – August 11, 2009

23 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Joel Gustafsson Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–9—While this is a companion to A Bridge to the Stars (2007) and Shadows in the Twilight (2008, both Delacorte), it is not necessary to have read those novels to understand the action and characters in this story. Joel, 14, is certain of two things: life gets more complicated over time, and winter always arrives unexpectedly. With the New Year approaching, he visits a graveyard to make three resolutions: to live to be 100 years old, to see the sea for the first time, and to see a naked woman. Enduring a winter night outside, trying to find a way to move away from his slowly decaying town, and seeking out the new shopkeeper's assistant are only a few incidents that follow. An awkward encounter with a classmate brings intense embarrassment, which is followed quickly by Joel's heralded heroic actions in an unrelated event. At times as spare and chilly as the Swedish winter, this book is an affecting portrayal of a young man's maturation and the difficulties of a troubled father-son relationship. Although the story is set in 1950s rural Sweden, readers will relate to Joel's mixed feelings about his father, his budding sexuality, and the fluidity of the humiliation and admiration that are bestowed upon Joel by his peers. Admittedly, the book's audience might be limited to mature and thoughtful readers who don't need constant action to keep the pages turning, but libraries that hold Mankell's related titles will want to add this one.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Starred Review, Booklist, October 1, 2009:
"So honest about emotions, especially in a story filled with action"

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 520L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385734972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385734974
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,476,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Joel Gustafsson, the protagonist of Mr. Mankell's books for young people, is now about to be fourteen, still lives with his father Samuel in cold Sweden, but strange things are happening to his body, although not always fast enough. He is embarrassed about his voice, for instance, which is prone to be shrill. Joel longs to live to be one hundred, see the sea and most importantly-- at least it is what he obsesses most about because of his raging hormones-- see a naked woman. He still wishes his father were a glamorous sailor, as he once was, rather than a lackluster lumberjack, but he misses his run-away mom less and less.

In addition to all the problems that come with being thirteen and in school, Joel also does the grocery shopping, sometimes does the cooking for him and his dad, functioning as his own mom. All too often, however, he serves as the parent to his father, having to go searching for him when he finds him missing from home, knowing that he will find Samuel with drinking companions and will have to bring him home, inebriated, and put him to bed.

Joel in both his awkwardness and sexual awakening becomes every teenager. He is shy and awkward in the presence of the opposite sex, is convinced his father and other adults do not understand him, is afraid of what his life will be like as an adult, does not understand the mystery of death, and cannot wait to fly from the parental nest.

Although it has been many a moon since I was Joel's age, he is totally believable and so very likeable. I cannot conceive that teenagers around the world would not identify with him.
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Format: Hardcover
Joel Gustafson, the protagonist of two previous novels by Swedish author Henning Mankell (A BRIDGE TO THE STARS and SHADOWS IN THE TWILIGHT), is growing up. He's 14 now, and starting to realize that there are both good and bad things that come with getting older. As the book opens, he's about to make his New Year's resolutions --- very solemnly in a churchyard at midnight --- and his resolutions (like most) are pretty telling. For one thing, he wants to make himself strong enough to live until he's 100, a feat he intends to accomplish in part by toughening himself up by sleeping outdoors even in the brutal winter nights in northern Sweden. He also plans to help make enough money so that he and his dad, a former sailor longing to return to the crisp blue waves, can move closer to the ocean. And, most importantly, he resolves to see a real-live naked woman.

Joel's perplexities about girls and women --- he likes to watch them from a distance but is tongue-tied and shy in real life --- are representative of his ever-increasing awkwardness and uncertainty about growing up. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his shifting relationship with his friend Gertrud, a young woman who lost her nose after a surgical mistake. Gertrud is mocked and ostracized by others in their small town, but Joel has always been kind to her --- until he lashes out at her in a rage that even he doesn't understand. Meanwhile, he's growing increasingly fascinated by the young new salesclerk at the local market, whom he is sure will become the naked woman of his imaginations and resolutions.

Meanwhile, Joel is learning that growing up also means new, unwelcome responsibilities at home.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Scully Bloke on April 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an absolutely beautifully written heart warming book.

Joel Gustafsson is reaching his 14th birthday. He lives in the north of Sweden by an icy river with his father Samuel. They have very little money and winter is here and the snow is falling.

But Joel is growing up and he makes 3 new year resolutions.

His first is that he wants to live to 100, and in order to do that he must toughen up his body.

His second is that he wants to see the sea. He knows in order to do this he needs to persuade his father to move away and that will not be easy.

His third and the most difficult for Joel is to see a girl naked.

The story tells of Joels daily life which revolves around his desire to implement his new year resolutions. To move away he will need money and he knows two ways of making it, selling caravans or becoming a rock star, now which will be the easiest........How can he make his body tougher...... and which girl shall he choose and how will he persuade her.....

A charming story written by the author of the Kurt Wallender crime novels.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone from 14 to 104. It is only 219 pages and you will not want to put it down until you finish. Guaranteed
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on November 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
On the first snowfall of the year, 14-year-old Joel always makes his New Year's resolutions.

This year he's made three: live to be 100, patch up his relationship with his father, and see a girl naked.

Life keeps getting in the way, however, of him reaching his goals. His father is a lumberjack who goes on drinking binges and seems unhappy with life. His mother abandoned them years ago. To add to his plate, he's trying to navigate girls, first kisses, bullies, and having a crush on an older woman.

Will Joel reach his resolutions amongst all his problems?

A slower-paced book, but the author does a good job of constructing its main characters. The plot is intriguing and will appeal to middle school boys, who will be able to relate to Joel's struggles. Readers who like realistic fiction and coming-of-age stories will enjoy reading WHEN THE SNOW FELL.

Reviewed by: Kira M
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