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SEVENTEEN by Per Nilsson


by Per Nilsson

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-932425-89-5
Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

A father tells his cathartic life story to his unconscious son. When 17-year-old Jonatan is taken to the hospital, Göran reminisces about his own teen experience. He tells his comatose son of falling in love with Jonatan’s mother, of their time as a family and of Göran’s decision to leave. As others arrive to keep vigil, they add their own insights to the story. Dividing the narrative between father, girlfriend and mother, Nilsson creates more of an oral-history project than young-adult novel. The older narrative voice is authentic, but sets too dry a tone for this emotional journey. Readers are lulled into a stupor, though the occasional switch in narrative voice does provide a welcoming jolt. Göran’s disturbing behavior, such as sending a detailed letter of his ex-wife’s sexual predilections to her new husband, merely sustains the flat emotional tone. Better examples of apathetic teens can be found in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999) by Stephen Chbosky and Tell Me Lies (2007) by Patrick Cooper; their works focus on the teen experience, rather than a midlife-crisis confession. (Fiction. YA)