It’s summertime, and everything is different now. Uncle Simon moves in with Henrik and his mother. Simon and Henrik have always been close, but now Simon is ill – really ill. It’s not difficult to work out what will happen, even if his mother avoids coming right out and saying it. Henrik tells Simon that he’s kissed Kjersti, a girl in his class at school, even though he hasn’t. He didn’t dare, even when he had the chance. Kjersti is due home soon from her holiday in Italy, and Henrik wonders if she has missed him at all.
How beautiful you are (Så vakker du er) is the story of a boy on the brink of becoming a young man, all whilst another young man is fading away. This is a story that touches upon grabbing the chances life gives you – and the fact that one day, quite suddenly, there may be no more chances to grab.
Brynjulf Jung Tjønn’s writing is both concise and intimate in form, brimming with language that swells with emotion.
Winner of the Brage Prize 2013.
‘The title How baeautiful You are can be seen as a description of the novel itself. … Emphatic sentence structures lend the storytelling intensity and power. As the novel is also short and easy to read, it is, in every way, a gift for young people about to sit their ‘nynorsk’ language finals. Having said that, Så vakker du er is a very readable book for adults as well as for young people. ... The advice to ‘Seize the day’ can be read between the lines. Go for the options open to you in the here and now, one day it might be too late!’
‘If it were possible to speak with books, I might well have said to this short novel How Beautiful You are. How beautiful and how painful you are. … The author does not spare his readers and sets to work with thoroughness and attention to concrete details. He takes both his difficult theme and his readers seriously, and his short sentences hammer into us the cruelty of real life. … Like all outstanding novels for young people, this one too makes good reading for adults.’
‘… this novel has unmistakable qualities, not least because the young reader is offered good opportunities to keep in touch with his own emotions. Jung Tjønn’s narrator is Henrik, a boy who lives with his mother and, later, also with her brother, Simon, who is mortally ill. The friendship between uncle and nephew is described in sensitive nynorsk, set out in a sentence per line. The layout enhances the poetic feel of the writing … At its best How Beautiful You are hits you where it hurts. … Jung Tjønn’s slow sentences contain a quiet acceptance of the necessity of death. Given that, one had better work out how to relate to death. This means that Så vakker du er might well come to function well as a kind of self-help book. At times, it expresses in new, fruitful ways how to confront Death ’face to face’.’
‘The dramatic tension is generated as Henrik accompanies Simon into death, staying close on the journey with no return, an overpowering and claustrophobic experience. Tjønn writes with magnificent effect, but at the same time with nuance and tenderness. … It is the weightiest book I have read for a long time and, when all is said, my favourite for the Brage Prize for the best book for children and young people in 2013.’
‘Living is fantastic and painful at the same time, and described here in a poetic prose that moves the reader. This is a fine novel.’
DAG OG TID
‘Tjønn has written a moving and hopeful story about a young man who manages to find within himself the strength to cope with life.’