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Shadows in the Twilight (Joel Gustafson Series #2)

Shadows in the Twilight (Joel Gustafson Series #2)

2.5 2
by Henning Mankell

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Joel will soon be twelve, and he thinks nothing's going on in the small community where he lives. But he's wrong. One day, a miracle happens. He's run over by a bus but somehow comes through it unscathed. He now believes he must repay the favor by doing a good deed.  So he decides to find a husband for his friend, a young woman in town who is shy and


Joel will soon be twelve, and he thinks nothing's going on in the small community where he lives. But he's wrong. One day, a miracle happens. He's run over by a bus but somehow comes through it unscathed. He now believes he must repay the favor by doing a good deed.  So he decides to find a husband for his friend, a young woman in town who is shy and lonely.  He plans to find the best candidate for a husband, and then secretly bring them together, with neither one being the wiser.

Even though his heart is in the right place, his plan backfires and his friend's feelings are hurt by the very person he thought would be best for her.  Joel feels terrible and knows that he must confess to his elaborate scheme to ultimately make things right.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathryn Erskine
Translated from the Swedish, this story has the feel of a folk tale and a magical quality reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking. The characters are somewhat outlandish and unbelievable, but they are still delightful. The setting does not feel contemporary; rather, it feels timeless. The story is unusual, yet simple. Eleven-year-old Joel survives being hit by a bus without a scratch. As a result, he believes he owes the world a good deed. What he sets out to do is a little misguided, but nevertheless earnest. The enjoyment of the book is in the journey Joel takes, his sweetness and sensitivity, and the funny characters he meets along the way. Those who enjoyed Mankell's earlier novel, A Bridge to the Stars, will likely be eager to read this sequel. The translation is geared to British audiences, but most American children, having been exposed to the Harry Potter collection, should have no trouble following this charming story. Reviewer: Kathryn Erskine
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
In this companion to A Bridge to the Stars, it's now the fall of 1957 in the little northern Swedish town where Joel, nearly 12, lives with his father. Joel feels like "nothing ever happens in this dump"; and then something amazing takes place. Carelessly running across the street, he's run over by a bus, but somehow survives without a scratch. Joel is not sure how he feels about God, but he's convinced a miracle has taken place, and he feels he must do a good deed to express his gratitude. He decides to find a husband for his whimsical, lonely adult friend Gertrud, who lost her nose in an operation. His secret plans, like writing love letters, lead Joel into more and more trouble, and in the end he realizes he must tell the truth and put things right. This coming-of-age tale is beautifully told, so that the reader understands just how Joel thinks and feels. It can stand on its own, though reading A Bridge to the Stars first will make the experience richer. Mankell is the award-winning Swedish author of many novels for adults as well, and he brings a world of emotional knowledge to this deceptively simple and at times poignantly amusing tale. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal

Gr 6-8

Being run over by a bus and living to tell about it is the impetus that pushes young Joel Gustafson do a good deed. Only it doesn't turn out to be as easy as it seems. Anguished by the feeling that he needs to atone for his miraculous escape, he goes from friend to friend looking for ideas about just what his good deed should be. He settles on helping his friend Gertrud find a husband, which is a tall task since she is decidedly eccentric and missing a nose. Joel runs into many roadblocks while trying to enact his plan, testing both his determination and resourcefulness. Fans of Mankell's A Bridge to the Stars (Delacorte, 2007) will enjoy the reunion with Joel, his father, Sara, and Gertrud No-Nose. Others might be confused by larger-than-life characters in a very simple plot. They might also scratch their heads at the setting-a small town in Northern Sweden in 1957. Also, some of the translations seem more British than American, which could be confusing. This book will not appeal to a broad audience.-Nicki Clausen-Grace, Carillon Elementary School, Oviedo, FL

Kirkus Reviews
Six months after the events in Bridge to the Stars (2007), Joel is almost 12 and remains a loner, living as much in his imagination as in the real world. He still finds it difficult to voice his conflicts and concerns to his father, but writes of them obliquely in his journal. He interacts with his schoolmates, but he has no one he can call a friend. Instead he associates mainly with strange, disaffected, eccentric adults. When he is miraculously uninjured after a bus strikes him, he decides that he must perform a good deed in gratitude. The deed he chooses leads to a comedy of errors and causes unintentional pain to someone he cares for. For this sequel Mankell has changed the narrative voice from the immediate present-tense stream-of-consciousness to an intrusive, unnecessary voice that announces "I have another story," and then never again occurs in the first person. The plot is thin and purposeless, and there is no attempt at a denouement. A disappointing sequel. (Fiction. 12-14)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Joel Gustafson Series , #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

I have another story to tell.
The story of what happened next, when summer was over. When the mosquitoes had stopped singing and the nights turned cold.
Autumn set in, and Joel Gustafson had other things to think about. He hardly ever went to his rock by the river, to gaze up at the sky.
It was as if the dog that had headed for its star no longer existed.
Or perhaps it had never existed? Had it all been a dream?
Joel didn't know. But in the end he decided it was all to do with the fact that he'd soon be twelve. After his twelfth birthday he'd be too big to sit on a rock and dream about a strange dog that might never have existed in the real world.
Reaching the age of twelve was a great event. It would mean there were only three years to go before his fifteenth birthday. Then he'd be able to ride a moped and watch films in the Community Center that children were not allowed to see. When you were fifteen you were more of a grown-up than a child.
These were the thoughts whirring around in Joel's head one afternoon in September 1957. It was a Sunday, and he'd set out on an expedition into the vast forest that surrounded the little northern Swedish town he lived in.
Joel had decided to test if it was possible to get lost on purpose. At the same time he had two other important questions to think through. One was whether it would have been an advantage to have been born a girl, and called Joella instead of Joel. The other was what he was going to do when he grew up.
Needless to say, he hadn't mentioned any of this to his dad, Samuel. He'd been curled up by the kitchen window, watching Samuel get shaved. As Samuel always cut himself while shaving, Joel had decided long ago that he would grow a beard when he grew up. Once, when he'd been alone in the house, he'd carefully drawn a black beard on his face, using the burnt end of a stick of wood from the stove. To find out what it felt like to have hair on his face, he'd also wrapped a fox fur round his cheeks. He'd decided that having a beard was better than repeatedly cutting his face with a razor. But he hoped his beard wouldn't smell like a fox.
When Samuel had finished shaving, he'd put on his best suit. Then Joel had knotted his tie for him.
Now Samuel was ready to pay a visit to Sara, who had a day off from her work as a waitress in the local bar.
Now he's going to say that he won't be late, Joel thought.
"I won't be late," said Samuel. "What are you going to do with yourself this afternoon?"
Joel had prepared an answer to that question in advance.
"I'm going to do a jigsaw puzzle," he said. "That big one with the Indian chief, Geronimo. The one with nine hundred and fifty-four pieces."
Samuel eyed him up and down thoughtfully.
"Why don't you go out to play?" he asked. "It's lovely weather."
"I want to complete the puzzle against the clock," said Joel. "I'm going to try to set a new record. It took me four hours last time. Now I'm going to do it in three."
Samuel nodded, and left. Joel waved to him through the window. Then he took out an old rucksack he kept under his bed and packed some sandwiches. He'd put the kettle on to boil while he was doing that, and when it was ready he made some tea and poured it into Samuel's red thermos flask.
Borrowing Samuel's thermos flask was a bit risky. If he broke it or lost it, Samuel would be angry. Joel would be forced to produce a lot of complicated explanations. But it was a risk he would have to take. You couldn't possibly set out on an expedition without a thermos flask.
Last of all he took his logbook from the case where the sailing ship Celestine was displayed, collecting dust. He closed his rucksack, pulled on his Wellingtons and put on his jacket. He cleared the stairs in three jumps—it had taken him four only six months before.
The sun was shining, but you could feel it was autumn. To get to the forest as quickly as possible, Joel decided that the Indian Chief Geronimo was lying in ambush with his warriors behind the Co-operative Society's warehouse. So he would have to proceed on horseback. He geed himself up, imagined that his boots were the newly shod hooves of a dappled pony, and set off across the street. The reddish brown goods wagons in the railway siding were rocks he could hide behind. Once he got that far, Geronimo and his braves would never be able to catch up with him. And just beyond there was the forest....
When he'd reached the trees he closed down the game. Nowadays he thought that his imagination was something he could turn on or off like a water tap. He went into the forest.
As the sun was already low in the sky, it seemed to be twilight in among the trees. The shadows were growing longer and longer among the thick trunks.
Then the path petered out. There was nothing but forest all around him.
Just one more step, Joel thought. If I take one more step the whole world will disappear.

Meet the Author

Henning Mankell is the prizewinning and internationally acclaimed author of novels for both adults and young people. His adult books dominate bestseller lists throughout Europe. Born in a village in northern Sweden, Mankell divides his time between Sweden and Africa, where he works with AIDS-related charities. He is also director of Teatro Avenida in Maputo, Mozambique. Mankell's companion novels about Joel and his father are A Bridge to the Stars, When the Snow Fell, and Journey to the End of the World.

Brief Biography

Mozambique, Africa
Date of Birth:
February 3, 1948
Place of Birth:
Stockholm, Sweden
Folkskolan Elementary Shool, Sveg; Högre Allmäna Läroverket, Borås

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Shadows in the Twilight (Joel Gustafson Series #2) 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
SHADOWS IN THE TWILIGHT by Henning Mankell is written using the distinctive voice of the main character, Joel. This is a companion book to A BRIDGE TO THE STARS.

This is a story that asks philosophical questions and does it in a way everyone can understand. Best known for his crime novels for adults, Mankell will win the young adult reader over, as well. As the author is Swedish, it has a decidedly European flare in style as well as setting that the reader will find refreshing and honest.

Some of the questions addressed are faith, miracles, gender, and when to make the choice of staying silent or telling the truth. Told in the first person, the reader gets to see inside Joel's head and understand the questions and the changes in his life from the boy's perspective. It is a shrewdly told tale of a boy who thinks that he might have experienced divine intervention, and what happens when he tries to prove that he deserved said intervention through an elaborate scheme to do good.

Through the eyes of Joel we see a world created with magic, imagination, reality, and possible divinity. The reader becomes sucked into Joel's world to the point where nothing he says seems improbable, only interesting and special. It is a book that asks the big questions and does it creatively, beautifully, and interestingly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago