When a young person dies today, their Facebook page often remains in place. In many cases the Facebook wall continues a life of its own, as a place where relatives and friends turn to the deceased directly. The profile becomes a kind of book of memorial, but also a way to extend the life of the person that has passed away.
When Amalie dies, her big sister Eli Anne takes over the administration of her facebook page. Several months pass, and Eli Anne wants to take down the page – to say a final farewell.
Eli Anne writes on Amalie's wall and looks back at their relationship – status changes, lies and jealousy, but also at the love that existed between the two sisters. There was so much that she never managed to say when Amalie was alive. ‘Dear sister,' Eli Anne writes on Amalie's Facebook wall. She doesn't want to leave anything unsettled between them by the time she finally takes down the page.
Kjære søster is a novel that tells a story of sorrow, remorse and shame alongside joy, vitality and hope. It's also a novel about music, in which various genres and artistic perspectives are brought together.
‘What makes this book exciting is that it raises some good questions about death in the digital age.’
‘The way in which Amalie is reflected through the eyes of her big sister in Facebook comments is touching and intense. The reader is also given good insight into Eli Anne in contrast to her little sister, [...] and the way in which Walgermo refers to Patti Smith’s song lyrics makes the story painful, but also more beautiful. [...] Although most people can relate to how it is to lose someone, the use of Facebook is a small yet effective twist that makes the book even more identifiable for today’s young people. [...] It is also about hope and recovery. Kjære søster is a book that will appeal to many and deserves its place in all Norwegian bookcases.’
‘Walgermo doesn’t direct his reader’s attention to the accident, but instead to the grief and the relationship between the two sisters, which is characterised by both sisterly love and jealousy. [...] Walgermo has [...] managed to move Facebook away from the trivial and towards the existential. He also depicts social media as both reality and fantasy. [...] I think that today’s young people will enjoy this!’
‘Walgermo uses clean and simple language to create beautiful imagery and sorrowful passages. […] There are many touching moments here: when they have to clear out her room, give her clothes away, whether she’s freezing out there in the cemetery, Eli inadvertently setting one place too many for dinner.’
‘Alf Kjetil Walgermo writes so well about this, employing an intimacy and sensitivity that make him a joy to read. […] The language he uses is so simple, clear and concise that it must have taken a lot of time and work for him to construct. […] Yet another impressive piece of work from Alf Kjetil Walgermo. […] The author’s fastidious prose should be savoured and read in small chunks, preferably several times, so that all of the nuances are picked up. This is a treat, and you don’t bolt down treats.’
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‘A sensitive and in many ways beautiful story communicated through Facebook messages.’
‘Real truth without any kind of guise. Kjære søster is a plunge into a close and dear relationship between two siblings – an honest declaration of love shaped like a farewell.’
‘A tender story of sisterly love, but also jealousy – they liked the same boy. Eli Anna thinks she has a lot to ask Amalie’s forgiveness for, and the author paints beautiful, credible portraits of both of them. They are teenage girls, and the author manages to get them on the same wavelength using simple methods. It is well done.’
‘There is a very interesting idea behind Alf Kjetil Walgermo’s most recent young adult novel: what happens when a person is gone, but their Facebook profile still exists? How does grief manifest in social media? … Walgermo managed to give Eli Anna a credible voice … This novel would be a good starting point for a conversation about sorrow, loss, jealousy, reconciliation and forgiveness.’