Monday, 13 February 2017

Fjord Blue by Nina Rossing

Fjord Blue

 Series: N/A
Author: Nina Rossing
Page Count: 256
Published: March 10th, 2016
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
  3 Stars ★★★

Benjamin arrives in Norway after crashing his father's car, expected to work on his grandparents' farm for the summer. After acting out because he has discovered that he is gay, he spends his days getting up early and working with the other employees on the farm, including Even. 

Benjamin soon develops feelings for Even, feelings that only become more distracting when they move into the same bedroom. What starts as a friendship might turn into something more, if Benjamin is willing to take a risk. Benjamin isn't the only one dealing with his own problems, and he'll soon learn that love can come from the most unexpected of places. 

Most young adult books that I read take place mostly in North America, so reading about rural Norway provided a pleasant change from the usual American setting. This was one of my favourite things about this book, reading about the way of life for those living in rural Norway, the descriptions of the landscape, it all seemed so different, and at times beautiful. 

Benjamin, the main character, seemed to clash with the beautiful scenery described in the novel. Rebellious, angry, and uncertain of the future, his mind is filled with worries and fears. While I connected with his struggle concerning his sexual orientation and I really understood that part of his story, that was where my positive feelings for him ended. As a character, he wasn't truly likeable. I don't expect all main characters in books to be likeable, but sometimes, it affects the way that I perceive a book overall, and for Fjord Blue, that was definitely the case. Benjamin was, to me, quite immature for a seventeen year old, and his first person narration gave me insight into some of his thoughts, often riddled with sexism and judgement. I found myself cringing at some of the things that he said and thought, and while I wished him well, I really wanted him to evolve as a person. He did evolve a bit, but not as much as I'd have liked. To be perfectly honest, his thought processes reminded me of those of fifteen year old boys trying to be edgy upon entering high school. 

Even, his roommate and crush, was much more mature and likeable. He had his own struggles, some of them similar to Benjamin's, and reading about them broke my heart. His family situation reflected real life far too vividly, but I really appreciated the discussion of bigotry and judgement from one's family that was present in this book. As for Benjamin's parents and grandparents, I can't say that I truly liked them, but I didn't really hate them, either. Some of their actions made them seem like positive role models for Benjamin, but others had me shaking my head. Either way, the cast of characters, whether I liked them or not, provided a decent way for the author to convey Benjamin's journey of self-discovery and change. 

As I mentioned, I loved reading the pieces where the author describes the landscape and scenery in rural Norway, however, other parts of the writing style didn't quite reach my expectations. Mainly, I had an issue with the way that Benjamin's narration would trail off and go on and on about the different experiences he'd had and the things that he had dealt with. I feel like these aspects of Benjamin's life could have been added into the story in much more effective ways, honestly I felt like I was reading somebody's diary at times and it threw me off. I'd forget what was actually going on in the present, and when I finally emerged from the paragraphs of Benjamin's personal thoughts, I'd have to go back a bit to remind myself of what the current situation had been. 

Overall, this story offered some great insight on the struggles that LGBTQ youth may experience, but the main character wasn't very likeable. I loved that this book took place in Norway, but Benjamin's thoughts often trailed off and interrupted the flow of events. 

I recommend this book to readers looking for LGBTQ books that take place outside of America. If you're interested in young adult books about gay teenagers and family problems, you may enjoy this book. 

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