Friday, December 14, 2007

Mischievious Meg

by Astrid Lindgren

A non-magically realistic book, written in a very natural and simple style that avoids being dull at all. Meg lives in the countryside of Sweden. Her family is very comfortable in their big house by the river. This book follows her through a year in her life, with an especially beautiful chapter as the family prepares for and celebrates Christmas.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of this book is the neighbors, of whom her parents disapprove. An adult can see that the father drinks too much, that the son carries too much of the burden of supporting the family. But Meg sees this family on their own terms, with the father and mother dancing together in the living room, and the son singing as he makes the pretzels that they sell to earn their living. It's not your typical black and white presentation, and no judgment is passed. For Meg, her neighbors are amusing and interesting, and she likes them, especially the son. They're just a part of the way her life is.

You can tell from the title that Meg is a lively girl. Lindgren seems to have a special sympathy for such children. As the mother of a challenging child myself, I found the following passage especially resonant:

At that Meg started a real earthquake. That was what Father called it when she got furious and desperate as only Meg could. The tears streamed down her face, and she screamed so loud she could be heard all over the house.

And again, it interests me that there is no judgment here, and that Meg is not portrayed as a child at odds with her family. It's very refreshing that her whole family is so matter-of-fact about her temperament even though they don't indulge it.

Many of Astrid Lindgren's books are extremely funny. This one is more low-key, but still amusing, and very enjoyable to read.

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Blogger zelda said...

Hmmm...I've been intrigued by the rest of the Lindgren reviews but this one may have a little too much moral relativism. The dad drinks too much but... The son shoulders too much of the burden but...

9:03 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Well, of course this is my interpretation. She never actually uses the word alcohol. However, I do feel that when she says the father goes on sprees it's pretty obvious he's drinking. What interests me is the way the writing would let this slip right over a child's head, but still let me, as an adult, have a glimpse at something darker. Although the son is a fairly major character in the book, it is mostly in the context of his relationship with Meg.

10:38 PM  

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