Monday, March 31, 2008

The Brothers Lionheart

by Astrid Lindgren

As I read this book, I wondered what I could possibly say about it. It was very difficult for me to read, but as I read, I realized that the difficulty reflected the degree to which the book had drawn me in, causing me to care and feel for the main character. There's a quote from Lloyd Alexander on the back cover:
The Brothers Lionheart is a remarkable book. Astrid Lindgren surely gains new stature in probing a world far removed from that of the admirable Pippi Longstocking -- this one is far deeper, and more demanding of courage, than any of Lindgren's previous works. Even on a surface level, the story must be her most unusual and unexpected; but what sticks in the mind are the endlessly fascinating questions she raises. Lindgren is speculating not only on the human situation but on the very nature of what may or may not lie very darkly beyond it. It may be unsettling, but that's exactly as it should be.

I guess I would really seize on "demanding of courage" (I had to put the book down several times) and "unsettling," but I would have to add "beautiful." Flashes of joy in the midst of sorrow and danger streak through this book, making it difficult to fully describe or characterize.

Would I recommend it to my children? I'm not sure. Would I stop them from reading it? Definitely not. Any family that reads this book together is certainly going to have a lot to talk about.

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