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Alltings början Karolina Ramqvist, Alltings början (The Beginning of Everything)

Norstedts,  2012.

Reviewed by B.J. Epstein in SBR 2013:1

Review Section: Fiction

Saga has just started secondary school when she meets him: the man who is to become her obsession. At first she does not think much of Victor Schantz, and cannot understand why Pauline, her best friend, keeps following Schantz around and insists that he is ‘Stockholm’s most beautiful man’. But soon Saga falls for him too or, at least, seems to like the idea of falling for him. However, he is an adult with a job as a hip party-planner and she is just another young groupie to sleep with. Can this be the beginning of everything for Saga?

Amidst the club culture of the 1990s, Saga begins to find herself but is not always sure that she likes what she finds. She was raised by her radical feminist  ,artist mother to be a strong, independent woman, never reliant on a man, and yet she is unable to fulfil that role. Or so she thinks. She wants security and love, and, perhaps most of all, attention.

In this novel, Ramqvist, a journalist and the author of Flickvännen (The Girlfriend) as well as several works of nonfiction, captures the voice of an uncertain, hesitant, desperate-to-be-cool teenage girl. Rumour has it that this work is based on her own life, an idea strengthened by the picture of Ramqvist on the cover. 

Saga is not always the most likeable of characters. She is a bit spoiled, somewhat cold, privileged, and quite self-centred, but her character is part of what makes the novel about her so compelling. The reader wants to know what will happen to Saga and how she is going to develop and, while asked to be critical of her, still desires to come closer and truly get to know her. Her insecurities are ones that readers can relate to, and her story (indeed, her saga) raises many questions.

The book is a literary analysis of power, gender, relationships, and fame. The author offers no answers and there is no clear end to anything. Instead, through Saga’s tale, Ramqvist challenges readers to think about their own selves, their own experiences and beliefs, and to consider whether they like what they find.

Also by Karolina Ramqvist

  • Flickvännen (The Girlfriend). Reviewed by Marie Allen in SBR 2010:1.

Other reviews by B.J. Epstein

Other reviews in SBR 2013:1

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