Vampires! Do you like reading about vampires and horror? Is a book about a 200-year old vampire (in a 12 year olds body) your cup of tea? Do you like stories set in the early 80’s? How about those set in a suburb right outside of Stockholm? MY suburb, to be exact, the suburb where I lived from age 7-20, where I went to school, where I grew up and where I have so many of my child hood memories. If you are interested I have got the book for you.
The name of the book is “Let the Right One In,” written by a school mate of mine, John Ajvide Lindkvist. The book is plain fantastic, set in the early 80’s, in the suburb of Blackeberg. The story is about a 12 year old boy, Oskar, who is bullied and has a hard time making friends in school. He is lonely and sometimes very scared. His days in school are simply horrifying, dealing with the meanest of bullies time and again. His school teachers are not any help, and his mom does not know what her son is going thru.
One evening the young boy is alone outside his house, as always. But this evening he notices a girl his age on the play ground. They start talking and the boy gets more and more fascinated with Eli, the girl who just moved in. There is only one strange thing with Eli; she never comes outside during daylight. She does not attend school. As the plot thickens, more and more strange things happen in the western suburbs of Stockholm. Strange and brutally bone-chilling murders occur over and over. Who is Eli really? And who is the mysterious man that Eli lives with? Is it her father?
In the meantime Oskar dreams of revenge. He wants to shut his bullies up once and for all. What can young Eli do about it? Can she help Oskar?
On November 7, the movie “Let the Right One In” premiers in the US. The movie is filmed in Blackeberg, in my old school, in the woods surrounding the suburb, and in the restaurant where I sometimes ate as a kid. I think it is going to be pretty fantastic to see the movie since the settings will all be so familiar to me.
The book is so much more than a horror story; it is a coming of age story about a young boy in distress, a document of the early 80’s. The author is two years younger than I am. We went to the same school at the same time. Lindkvist himself had a very hard time growing up and was bullied just as Oskar was in the book. In his description of his class mates he portrays them just the way they were. I know them (the bullies), or I know of them. He describes teachers that we all had. Some are described as they would appear in a laughing mirror, but still they are described quite right on.
I think OR I believe that I know who he portrayed young Eli after. I believe (I HAVE ZERO evidence, this is just what I am THINKING) she is one of my best friends growing up. My friend was mysterious looking, beautiful, fragile, and kind. She lived a different kind of life than the rest of us did, and she just happened to live close to Lindkvist. Now, that is a fascinating thought, and that thought pleases me.
I am not a big fan of horror books, OR horror movies, but this book is so much MORE than a horror story. It has a rich depth to it. It is sad. It is thought-provoking. And it paints such a good portrait of a shy, bullied pre-teen.
Read the book, and then let’s go see the movie when it premiers in US on November 7.
And with that said I wish you all a very good Tuesday.