Litrature and Nature
“It’s Fine by Me” is a coming of age story. Audun, the growing boy, has had a tough Norwegian upbringing. His dad is a violent alcoholic who mistreats him, his brother and sister and their mom. The book begins when Audun is thirteen in 1965 just as society is undergoing seismic shifts. Audun is lucky he has one true friend in Arvid. They talk about books and Audun borrows classics from Arvid’s father’s bookshelves. Arvid’s dad also becomes a little of a substitute role model for Audun. The story unfolds slowly with lots of literature references featuring Hemingway and Jack London. Audun is an odd mix of a heavy reader yet a ready scrapper when challenged by local lads. He has the scars and bruises to prove it.
The Norwegian landscape and farmland play a wonderful role in this book. Audun uses them as a restorative when life becomes too difficult. There are as many people who help him as there are those who hinder or attempt to hinder him. He goes his own way. He knows his own mind at a young age. Always determined to be a writer he makes the odd decision to leave school a few months before graduating. `School’ continues in rough manual labor and in books. He goes out in nature when things feel overwhelming. He looks rescues himself by rescuing loved ones.
Though this is my first Petterson so it’s hard to judge I don’t think this would be the best place to start. In places it feels disjointed though perhaps Petterson is inviting the reader to reach your own conclusions. Since the book is loosely autobiographical we know there’s a positive outcome but Audun has a singularly tough route to adulthood.