Giraffes in Finnland – Kari Erhardt

“Hi Marc. It’s me…Marion. The one from Thomas’ party. I just wanted to let you know that I still have your bottle opener. And I’m pregnant with your child. Please don’t freak out. We can talk about it if you like. My number is…”

I have first seen this book last summer in a bookstore in Berlin and the word “Finnland” basically got my attention. And c’mon, the cover is kinda catchy too. For quite a while I was sneaking around the it, not sure whether to buy or not to buy it since I often feel I’m too old for middle grade-ish books. But at the end I got it and I don’t regret it.

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“Sentimentalism is not for Finn. She’s busy enough finding the place where she belongs – between the commune incl. dog and shockingly attractive “Brother honorary” of her writing father and her mother’s apartment with urological partner and a Mr Spock giant poster. And while she is busy keeping these two completely opposite worlds together, not dealing too much with the bitches in her school and meet the expectations of her first boyfriend, her best friend Collie falls in love on an Internet portal. What at first looks like an absurd online relationship soon becomes a trial for their friendship.”**

As mentioned above the book ranged between older middle grade to the younger YA audience. I’d say the book is suitable for youngsters from 11 up to 16. Personally I felt too old for it which didn’t make it a bad book but all the content and problems just seemed a million years away from me, because I’m such a old granny already.

Giraffes in Finnland – Finnland from the name Finn* – tells the story of Finn and her life that she spends partly at her fathers and mothers place. The story is told in first person an thus we experience Finn’s world through her eyes.

This book handles all these things one usually goes through in puberty; love, hate, friendship, family issues, struggling with yourself and self doubt, confused feelings and heartbreak.

Finn can be described as easy going but also thoughtful. She doesn’t care much about make up or fashion, she enjoys skateboarding and hanging around with her skater friends that are all guys.

One thing I notice right at the first page is that Finn calls her parents by their first names – Marc and Marion – and not Mom and Dad. To be honest, this kind of behaviour annoys me. What makes kids wanna call their parents by their first names? What parents are these that allow their kids to call them by their names? From my experience in real life, I know that this usually causes a lot of authority and respect problems.

From Finns tellings we get to know her father who is a struggling writer and doesn’t really like woman. He thinks they are all “hypersensitive, hysterical and irritating two udder cows“.

Her mother is a urologist and doesn’t like men either. She thinks they are all pigs.

When Finn was younger she dreamed about that her father and mother would fall in love and the she and Marion would move into Marc’s apartment that he shares with some other guys – his son Max, Stefan, Andreas, Lothar and a dog names Porno.

Finn get’s well along with her father but also feels a lot of being a second choice because often Max comes first, but after a terrible skating accident he has so move to his mother and so the relationship between father and daughter improves.

Her mother is really…cold. She’s often busy with work and leaves the entire household to Finn. The mother is so incapable of anything it makes me sick. All her empathies seem so…fake and simply cold. To make this all worse, her mother best friend, Gitt, is also Finn’s teacher.

“Why are you pulling such a face, Zwergilein”
(a belittlement of dwarf)

This sounds so cynical and Gitt continues poking into Finns wounds with a knife. So these two characters we really annoying.

Her best friend Collie is really self-conscious due to her being so tall…and kinda bulky.  But nonetheless Finn really likes and protects her from the bitchy girls in their school. Their friendship is strong and they really like each other.

For Collie having a boyfriend is everything in life needed to be happy. When Collie starts to hang around in the online fantasy world Xtratopia and falls in love with Crow, things start to get complicated and she really behaves very naïve. For Finn things get interesting as well with Finn2, the son of Lothar and it all ends up in a huge mess and getting hurt and upset.

Over all this was a very nice and entertaining read but I definitely felt too old for it and it was just way too many teenager problems at once for me to handle.
I rated the book with 3 STARS

*Finn is a unisex name.
**This a German book and the synopsis and dialogues are freely translated by me.

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Author: Fhina

Ocean soul. 28 years old book lover living in Helsinki, active reader and coffee addict.

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