Author Archives: eschulenburg

Popular Music from Vittula by Mikael Niemi

Matti and his best friend Niila grew up in Pajala, Sweden, north of the Artic Circle. It’s a small town that even Sweden forgot existed. As an adult Matti narrates the story of his childhood, we are given a glimpse of what it is like to grow up in a place where time seems to stand still.

Matti and Niila shared everything growing up – their first days at school, their first tastes of alcohol, their first kisses, their first experience with death. Most importantly, they discover together a passion for music, first in a Beatles record, and later as they start their own band. As they grow from young boys to men, we share with them their loves, heartaches, and wonders.

Niemi has written a beautiful, funny, heartwrenching novel. He allows the reader to feel the confusion and frustration every child feels growing up, even in a completely foreign location. Occasionally, his narrator takes leaps into magical realism, which only serves to emphasize the dream-like world that children sometimes inhabit. Of course, he often also has the reader laughing out loud at some of the outlandish situations the boys find themselves in – wait till you read the mouse episode. Hilarious! I thoroughly enjoyed this well written coming of age story.

Finished: 7/4/08
Source: Franklin Avenue Library
Rating: 7/10

Reviewed by Elizabeth

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