Katarina von Numers-Ekman: Singer

24 January 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Singer
Kuvitus [Ill. by]: Jenny Lucander-Holm
Helsinki: Schildts & Söderströms, 2012. 144 pp.
ISBN  978-951-52-3013-3
€17.90,  hardback

Singer by Finland-Swedish author Katarina von Numers-Ekman deals with some fairly dark childhood emotions in an intense way, but manages to avoid too much angst. Josefin is an 11-year-old girl who lives alone with her father following the death of her mother. The girl does not dwell daily on the loss of her mum, but as she grows up she finds herself missing her mother more. This novel devotes an unusual amount of space to questions of language and identity through the mother’s British background and the family’s Finland-Swedish heritage. Singer is a clever double reference: Josefin has a Singer brand sewing machine, and the key plot point centres around a singing exam. Josefin goes through a number of embarrassing experiences with her friends. Her feelings of embarrassment or shame are linked with things like poor swimming skills,  a classmate’s teasing, or a friend’s grandfather’s alcohol consumption. Katarina von Numers-Ekman manages to infiltrate the world of children’s experiences without making the reader feel like a voyeur. Singer provides numerous points of access to the painful growing-up years of childhood and early adolescence.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

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