Norwegian title: Dette er ikke oss
How are you all doing? Crazy that it is July already right? I’m sitting here eating my mothers-in-law’s chocolate cake and pondering how I’m going to write this review because this story is deep and sensitive. The synopsis is translated from Goodreads:
It’s almost been a year since mom died. At home, Sanna must take care of her father who only wishes to sleep and write. He barely eats and he barely notices Sanna. Things aren’t any better at school. Sanna’s best friend has stopped talking to her, but when Yousef is transferred to the class things begin to change. He teaches Sanna to take pictures and to view the world in a completely new way. Yousef also has more responsibilities than a regular teenager should, and Sanna feels like she finally has found someone who understands her, but can she trust him? Or is he just like everybody else?
This Isn’t Us is a very strong and painful story wrapped in a very familiar setting. Sanna, our main character, is 15 years old, a period where a lot of things happen in a young person’s life. There are friends who stop being your friend, boys enter the picture, some people start to party, while others are struggling to find out who they are – with other words, we can all relate to Sanna’s situation. However, Sanna stands out because she lost her mother a year ago something nobody should have to go through at such a young age when a mother is so important! I experienced Sanna as very conscientious but with a lot of difficult thoughts she doesn’t quite know how to sort out. She wants to be normal, but at the same time she isn’t normal due to her mother’s death, and this makes things in an already confusing everyday even more confusing. This is a story about failure. The kind of failure that might be hard to discover, but what kind of failure we’re talking about here is up to you to discover when you read the book.
There is some sunshine in Sanna’s life. One more hidden than the other because Yousef is transferred to Sanna’s class and he brings a certain amount of joy into her life. Yousef can relate to her issues and that’s how many friendships begin, or at least I feel like it. Here’s someone she can talk to, even though she might not be aware that she needs to talk to somebody as Alaei has expressed it to Sunnmøreposten (a Norwegian newspaper). Another character I really appreciate, don’t misunderstand me, I like Yousef, and my girly 15-year-old self would probably really appreciate him in this story, but my 24-year-old self becomes somewhat annoyed with him from time to time, so I really appreciate the fact that Trine, Sanna’s Norwegian teacher, is a part of this story too. We meet her quite early on and I just get warm and protective vibes from her! This is a person who truly uses her eyes and apparently remembers, in comparison to Sanna’s other teachers, that something major happened in Sanna’s life last year. She’s more hidden, but she’s always there like a protective Patronus (sorry about the HP reference, I’m in a heavy HP bubble these days) secluded in the background. Trine is, in my opinion, the kind of teacher who should have a gold medal for existing and looking out for her students. She’s the kind of teacher I want my children to have. She’s not hovering over Sanna, instead, she drops small hints about that she’s there if Sanna feels the need to talk, and what more can teachers do when they’re worried about their pupils?
I became aware of this book when one of the girls I follow on Instagram named Malin (or @readygoread as she’s called on Instagram) couldn’t stop talking about it. Therefore, I had very high expectations when I started to read it. I was not disappointed, because although it’s not a storyline filled with a lot of drama it’s filled with complications a child should never have to face at such a young age. The story builds itself up very nicely until it peaks, but I’m not going to delve more into that, because that would spoil too much. I think Sanna has a very nice development in this story despite all her complications, and that she gets to know herself in new ways which are very important at this stage of life. I believe we all have had some sort of incident happening in our teens that we will remember for the rest of our lives, whether they’re good or bad. I must say I like Sanna as a character, and my psychology student poked its head out of its nest a few times. However, I think the student is getting snoozy because there were some obvious hints along the way that we didn’t pick up on. That really made it sound like I had several personalities, but not to worry peeps they’re all mushed into one! This book might also be translated so fingers crossed it will happen!
This Isn’t Us is a book that makes an impression. You’ll remember this read when you close the book after reading the last page. Alaei writes in a way which is easy to relate to and this draws the reader in. I recommend this book to grownups and young adults because of the storyline and the topics brought to light. It is a book that enriches your perspective on the world and the society surrounding us, while it also reminds us that things may not always be as it seems, so as Ellen DeGeneres says: Be kind to one another!
Genre: Young Adult
Theme: Family, friends, relationships
– The Book Reader