When the Snow Fell [NOOK Book]


Joel is growing up. He is getting interested in girls. Just look at his New Year's resolutions: 1 - to see a naked lady, 2 - to toughen himself up so that he can live to be a hundred, and 3 - to see the sea. They all look pretty impossible for a motherless boy in Northern Sweden. Especially as his sailor dad is keen to drown his sadness in drink, and all the local matrons are narrowly watching the pair of them. And then he saves old Simon from a frozen death in the woods, and ...

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When the Snow Fell

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Joel is growing up. He is getting interested in girls. Just look at his New Year's resolutions: 1 - to see a naked lady, 2 - to toughen himself up so that he can live to be a hundred, and 3 - to see the sea. They all look pretty impossible for a motherless boy in Northern Sweden. Especially as his sailor dad is keen to drown his sadness in drink, and all the local matrons are narrowly watching the pair of them. And then he saves old Simon from a frozen death in the woods, and Joel becomes a local hero.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Steven Kral
Joel Gustafson, a fourteen-year-old growing up in a small town in northern Sweden during the 1950s, makes a set of New Year's resolutions to celebrate the first snowfall. He resolves to live to be one hundred, to see the sea, and, within the next year, to see a woman naked. Joel expects to have to overcome a few obstacles to complete his resolutions. It's the obstacles he did not expect that force him to reevaluate his relationships with people around him, his view of the world, and his hopes for the future. Extremely well written, Mankell's prose occasionally verges on poetry. His descriptions are vivid enough for the reader to almost feel the cold in the Swedish air, and his characters act and read like real people rather than constructs to move the plot forward. Especially deft is the portrayal of Joel's father's relapse into alcoholism after a failed love affair. Mankell shows both Joel's and his father's realization of each other's responsibility in what has been a cycle of recoveries and relapses. Ultimately this book is a vivid and carefully crafted portrait of a young teen. Although there is a plot involving Joel's efforts to complete his resolutions and a harrowing rescue during a blizzard, Joel's internal struggles and realizations are the meat of the novel. The novel might not appeal to reluctant readers, but many will find parts of themselves in Joel. Reviewer: Steven Kral
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Joel Gustafson celebrates New Year's on the first day of snowfall rather than being tied to a calendar. The resolutions that he makes in the church graveyard at the stroke of midnight include the following: live to be 100 years old, which will require toughening himself up; solve his father's "big problem," namely that he is a lumberjack but was meant to be a sailor; and, finally, see a naked woman. He manages the third resolution in the course of this sequel to A Bridge to the Stars and Shadows in the Twilight, but readers will have to wait and see about the other two. Thirteen year old Joel has more on his plate than one would wish; his mom abandoned the family years ago, and his dad is prone to drinking binges, straining further their meager income. But he also has more typical problems—negotiating his first kiss, not liking school very much, and having a crush on an older woman. He becomes a hero in his small Swedish village when he saves an old man from freezing to death, but the man eventually dies anyway and that typifies the tenor of this tale. This is a very slow paced book with much of the story taking place in Joel's head and in small deeds; hence, it is potentially limited in appeal among the age group targeted. Thoughtful, compassionate, and introspective, Joel may be a character that appeals more to girls. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 7–9—While this is a companion to A Bridge to the Stars (2007) and Shadows in the Twilight (2008, both Delacorte), it is not necessary to have read those novels to understand the action and characters in this story. Joel, 14, is certain of two things: life gets more complicated over time, and winter always arrives unexpectedly. With the New Year approaching, he visits a graveyard to make three resolutions: to live to be 100 years old, to see the sea for the first time, and to see a naked woman. Enduring a winter night outside, trying to find a way to move away from his slowly decaying town, and seeking out the new shopkeeper's assistant are only a few incidents that follow. An awkward encounter with a classmate brings intense embarrassment, which is followed quickly by Joel's heralded heroic actions in an unrelated event. At times as spare and chilly as the Swedish winter, this book is an affecting portrayal of a young man's maturation and the difficulties of a troubled father-son relationship. Although the story is set in 1950s rural Sweden, readers will relate to Joel's mixed feelings about his father, his budding sexuality, and the fluidity of the humiliation and admiration that are bestowed upon Joel by his peers. Admittedly, the book's audience might be limited to mature and thoughtful readers who don't need constant action to keep the pages turning, but libraries that hold Mankell's related titles will want to add this one.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Joel (A Bridge to the Stars, 2007, and Shadows in the Twilight, 2008) is now almost 14 and feeling all the bewildering emotions that growing up entails. He leads a rich inner life, filled with wild dreams and endless imagination. Along with his yet-unachieved goal of getting his father to return to a seafaring life, he resolves to live to be 100, to see a naked woman, to become a rock star and to see the sea. He sets about reaching these goals in his own inimitable way. Although part of him wants to hold on to pieces of childhood, he finds maturity and gains insights as he plunges from one misadventure to the next. Mankell employs a third-person stream of consciousness, allowing Joel's thoughts to roam unchecked and uncensored. There is a natural flow in the syntax, translated by Thompson from the Swedish, and the author treats Joel with empathy and kindness. This third entry in the series is more successful than the second; readers will reconnect with Joel's essence and wonder what the next year will bring. (Fiction. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781849398688
  • Publisher: Andersen
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Series: Joel Gustafson Series, #3
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 396,707
  • Age range: 12 years
  • File size: 1,009 KB

Meet the Author

Henning Mankell

Internationally acclaimed author HENNING MANKELL has written the eight novels in the Kurt Wallander Mystery series, among many other novels set in Sweden or Africa. The books have been published in 35 countries and consistently top the bestseller lists. His novel Sidetracked won the CWA Gold Dagger in 2001. Born in the Swedish village of Sveg in 1948, Mankell now divides his time between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique, where he is head of Teatro Avenida.


Henning Mankell was born in Stockholm in 1948. He is the author of many works of fiction, including the nine novels in the Kurt Wallander series. He has worked as an actor, theatre director, and manager in Sweden and in Mozambique -- where he is now head of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo.

Author biography courtesy of The Random House Group.

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

Read an Excerpt

When the Snow Fell

By Henning Mankell
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Copyright © 2009

Henning Mankell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780385904919

--one —

Joel let the roller blind run up very fast, so as to make a loud smacking noise.
It was like firing a cannon to salute the new day.

He stared out the window in surprise. The ground was all white. He had been fooled yet again.

Winter always came creeping up on you when you least expected it. Joel had decided last autumn that he would never allow that to happen again. Before going to bed, he would make up his mind whether or not it would start snowing during the night.

The problem was that you couldn't hear it snowing. It was different with rain. Rain pattered onto the corrugated iron roof over the cycle rack outside the front door. When the sun shone you couldn't hear that either, but the light changed. Wind was easiest of all. Sometimes when it was blowing really hard, it would whip into the walls so fiercely that it felt as if the house was about to take off.

But snow came creeping up on you. Snow was like an Indian. It moved silently and came when you least expected it.

Joel continued gazing out the window. So winter had arrived now. There was no getting away from it. And he'd been fooled again. Would it be a long, cold winter? The snow that had fallen now would stay the longest. Because it would be underneath all the snow that came later. The first to come was the last to thaw. And that would beat the end of April, or even the beginning of May.

By then Joel would be fourteen. He'd have grown almost half an inch. And lots of things that he knew nothing about now would have happened.

The snow had arrived.

And so it was New Year's Eve. Even if it was still only November.

That was how it was for Joel. He had decided. New Year's Eve would be when the first snow fell.

His very own New Year's Eve. When the ground was white, that was when he would make his New Year's resolutions. If he had any.
And he did. Lots.

It was cold on the floor. Joel fetched a pillow from his bed and put it under his feet. He could hear his dad clattering about in the kitchen with the coffeepot. Samuel didn't like Joel standing on his pillow, so he would have to be ready to move away smartly from the window if the door suddenly opened behind him. But Samuel rarely came into Joel's bedroom in the morning. There was a risk, but not much of one.
He watched a single snowflake slowly floating down to the ground, to be swallowed up by all the whiteness.

There was a lot to think about when you were thirteen years of age. More than when you were twelve. Not to mention when you were eleven.

He thought he had learnt two things since it had started snowing last autumn: Life became more complicated as time passed by. And winter always came creeping up on you when you least expected it.

Joel thought about the previous evening. It had still been autumn then. After dinner he had pulled on his boots, grabbed hold of his jacket and leapt downstairs in three jumps. As it was a Sunday evening, the night train heading south stopped at the local railway station. It was rare for anybody to go aboard. And even rarer for anybody to get off. But you never knew. Besides, Joel used to slip little secret letters into the postbox in the mail coach.

I have my eye on you. Signed J.

Always the same text. But he would write different names on the envelope, taken at random from his dad's newspaper. He made up the addresses himself.

9 Miracle Street. Or 12 Blacksmith Lundberg's Avenue.

Joel thought that there might be an address like that somewhere in the world. But as he also suspected that the post office had secret employees who spent all day and night tracing people who sent letters to invented addresses, he didn't dare to use the names of towns that really existed. And so he would study the latest issue of Where When How in the school library. That was an annual that listed things that had happened the previous year. Right at the back was a list of all the towns and villages in Sweden. It told you which places had grown bigger and which ones had become smaller. The little town where Joel lived always grew smaller every year. That confirmed Joel's suspicions. Nobody wanted to carry on living here. Nor did anybody want to move here.

If things turned out really badly, he and Samuel would be the last two people in the place. He'd once tried to explain this to Samuel, but his dad only laughed.

"There'll always be people living by the river," he'd said.

"But does it have to be us?" Joel had asked.

Samuel didn't respond to that. He just laughed again, put on his glasses and started reading his newspaper. But Joel had been able to check in Where When How that the towns he had written on his envelopes did not exist in Sweden. Neither Joelsville nor Sprucehampton.

He never stuck stamps on the envelopes. He drew them on instead. Old men with long noses. As the letters were fakes, he didn't think it was right to use genuine postage stamps. And then he had to be careful when he slipped them into the postbox on the mail coach. Stationmaster Knif had sharp eyes, and was apt to flare up and lose his temper. But Joel hadn't been found out so far. He'd written in his notebook that he had now sent eleven letters in all with the southbound express train.

Anyway, he'd posted his latest letter the previous night. When it was still only autumn. The frost had crackled under his bicycle tires. Steam had billowed out from his mouth as he rode up the hill to the station and became short of breath. It was the middle of November. It had often started snowing by then, but not this year. Winter was late. But now, yet again, the snow had come creeping up during the night.

Joel glanced at the alarm clock on a stool next to his bed. He had better get a move on if he was going to be in time for school. He was behind schedule already, as usual. He shuffled into the bathroom, got washed as quickly as possible, dressed and went to the kitchen.

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from When the Snow Fell by Henning Mankell Copyright © 2009 by Henning Mankell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Kira M for Teens Read Too

    On the first snowfall of the year, 14-year-old Joel always makes his New Year's resolutions.

    This year he's made three: live to be 100, patch up his relationship with his father, and see a girl naked.

    Life keeps getting in the way, however, of him reaching his goals. His father is a lumberjack who goes on drinking binges and seems unhappy with life. His mother abandoned them years ago. To add to his plate, he's trying to navigate girls, first kisses, bullies, and having a crush on an older woman.

    Will Joel reach his resolutions amongst all his problems?

    A slower-paced book, but the author does a good job of constructing its main characters. The plot is intriguing and will appeal to middle school boys, who will be able to relate to Joel's struggles. Readers who like realistic fiction and coming-of-age stories will enjoy reading WHEN THE SNOW FELL.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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