When We Were Vikings
A heart-swelling debut for fans of The Silver Linings Playbook and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all...We are all legends of our own making.

When We Were Vikings Details

TitleWhen We Were Vikings
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 28th, 2020
PublisherScout Press
Rating
GenreFiction, Young Adult

When We Were Vikings Review

  • Paige
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely loved being inside of Zelda's mind. Zelda, a high functioning young adult diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, has something about her that everyone can relate to. While exploring life’s boundaries, she often compares her world to the Viking world. Though others consider Zelda “not normal”, she considers her life a quest and strives to fulfill her legacy while searching for identity, battling for independence, and overcoming life’s villains. “I told him that I was used to it. “ I absolutely loved being inside of Zelda's mind. Zelda, a high functioning young adult diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, has something about her that everyone can relate to. While exploring life’s boundaries, she often compares her world to the Viking world. Though others consider Zelda “not normal”, she considers her life a quest and strives to fulfill her legacy while searching for identity, battling for independence, and overcoming life’s villains. “I told him that I was used to it. “People call me a retard all the time.”” Her older brother and caregiver, Gert, really pulled on my heart strings as well. He doesn’t always make the right decisions, but I felt like he had good intentions. Gert truly represents the depth and complexity of life’s unexpected turns. Gert’s character speaks volumes, and it is difficult to fully love him or fully hate him. “We do not have very much money, but Gert is powerful at surviving life’s battles.” Sexual freedom among the cognitively disabled is a topic explored in this novel. Zelda has intimate feelings for her boyfriend and wants to explore those feelings like most other young adults would. (Please note that there is a long segment on this topic.)The language was very colorful, and I loved it. Zelda often utilizes her “Word of the Day”, but she also mimics the language of her peers and environment. As a result, this book is filled with adult language, but it made it so much more palpable. “Those people, the ones who don’t trust Gert, are shit-heels and fuck-dicks, because Gert is one of the smartest people I know, and the bravest...” I think this book will create excellent conversations and highly recommend it for a buddy read or group read. It has several controversial topics and covers a lot of current issues with cognitively disabled young adults. Though sensitive in subject areas, if you do have a respectful and close reading group it would inspire valuable discussion. “And sometimes the heroes of legends have to break the rules in order to save the people they care about.” What are the differences between responsibility and accountability? How do we decide where accountability falls? Can someone who loves you be bad for you? I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down. The last chapter, especially the very last page, had me in tears. I think we can all learn many lessons from Zelda. Thank you Gallery/Scout Press, NetGalley, and Andrew David MacDonald for this copy. Opinions are my own.More on these topics:Living with Fetal Alcohol SyndromeCognitive Disability and SexualityEmployment with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
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  • Susan's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    What a fine - A VERY FINE!- story Andrew David MacDonald has brought us in When We Were Vikings. That ending was just beautiful. I'm still leaking tears as I write this review. At the end of this epic tale, this talented author did not leave any loose ends untied: we certainly have a lot to learn from Viking lore. "...For [Zelda] the world is a place where courage and being part of a tribe means more than anything else—where we are all Vikings paddling together, to the beat of the same drum." What a fine - A VERY FINE!- story Andrew David MacDonald has brought us in When We Were Vikings. That ending was just beautiful. I'm still leaking tears as I write this review. At the end of this epic tale, this talented author did not leave any loose ends untied: we certainly have a lot to learn from Viking lore. "...For [Zelda] the world is a place where courage and being part of a tribe means more than anything else—where we are all Vikings paddling together, to the beat of the same drum."Zelda was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, due to her mother's heavy drinking. Their biker father died in prison. Their mother died shortly after, leaving them to the mercy of their abusive Uncle Richard. But, somehow, both Zelda and Gert were going to defy the odds and escape the stereotypical outcome for two young people who were caught in the vice of poverty and abuse - or would they?!Gert is encouraged by one of his girlfriends to apply for a hardship scholarship to the state college. He was awarded a scholarship, due mostly to the moving essay he submitted - which he won't let Zelda read - and life improves for the better for this hapless pair. But Gert's alcohol and drug addictions, and his self-defeating attitude to life cause him to mess up time and again, threatening their fragile world. As he himself admits: "there are people around the poker table of life whose hands aren’t perfect and they see what they have and fold right away. They don’t even bother playing." Unfortunately, Gert is well on the way to becoming one of those "folders", unless Zelda can marshal every ounce of courage in her tiny body and set out to save her brother from all the evil forces that are threatening to destroy her precious tribe. During Zelda's perilous - and often horrifying - quest, I was spellbound as Zelda learned to become more self-reliant and confident in her abilities: she made me see ability, not disability. You might well be thinking that this tale is all "Forrest Gump gets inducted to the Sons of Anarchy biker gang" - and for a while there I thought that this was exactly where we were headed. But I am pleased to report that this story has so many levels to it, very few of which could be labeled predictable. These characters were real and precious to me. I wanted to cover brave, tiny Zelda in a suit of armour. Her trust is continually abused, she suffers a major crisis of faith and the reality of stark, ugly death almost destroys her completely. What a legendary journey, indeed!I rate this a 10 out of 5 star read: I could barely catch my breath when I finished the last sentence. This truly impressive novel should be read by everyone.My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review
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  • Susan's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    What a fine - A VERY FINE!- story Andrew David MacDonald has brought us in When We Were Vikings. That ending was just beautiful. I'm still leaking (happy/wow) tears as I write this review. At the end of this epic tale, this courageous author did not leave any loose ends untied: we certainly have a lot to learn from Viking lore. "...For [Zelda] the world is a place where courage and being part of a tribe means more than anything else—where we are all Vikings paddling together, to the beat of the What a fine - A VERY FINE!- story Andrew David MacDonald has brought us in When We Were Vikings. That ending was just beautiful. I'm still leaking (happy/wow) tears as I write this review. At the end of this epic tale, this courageous author did not leave any loose ends untied: we certainly have a lot to learn from Viking lore. "...For [Zelda] the world is a place where courage and being part of a tribe means more than anything else—where we are all Vikings paddling together, to the beat of the same drum."Zelda was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, due to her mother's heavy drinking. Their biker father died in prison. Their mother died shortly after, leaving them to the mercy of their abusive Uncle Richard. But , somehow, both Zelda and Gert defy the odds and escape the stereotypical outcome for two young people who were caught in the vice of poverty and abuse.Gert is encouraged by one of his girlfriends to apply for a hardship scholarship to the state college. He is awarded the scholarship, due mostly to the moving essay he submitted - which he won't let Zelda read - and life improves for the better for this hapless pair. But Gert's alcohol and drug addictions, and his self-defeating attitude to life cause him to mess up time and again, threatening their fragile world. As he himself admits: "there are people around the poker table of life whose hands aren’t perfect and they see what they have and fold right away. They don’t even bother playing." Unfortunately, Gert is well on the way to becoming one of those "folders", unless Zelda can marshal every ounce of courage in her tiny body and set out to save her brother from all the evil forces that are threatening to destroy her precious tribe. During Zelda's perilous - and often horrifying - quest, I was spellbound as Zelda learned to become more self-reliant and confident in her abilities.: she made me see ability, not disability. You might well be thinking that this tale is all "Forrest Gump gets inducted to the Sons of Anarchy biker gang" - and for a while there I thought that this was exactly where we were headed. But I am pleased to report that this story has so many levels to it, very few of which could be labeled predictable. These characters were real and precious to me. I wanted to cover brave, tiny Zelda in a suit of armour. Her trust is continually abused, she suffers a major crisis of faith and the reality of stark, ugly death almost destroys her completely. What a legendary journey, indeed!I rate this a 10 out of 5 star read: I could barely catch my breath when I finished the last sentence. This truly impressive novel should be read by everyone.
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  • Kathryn in FL
    January 1, 1970
    This highly engaging debut novel is a very original, unique story with interesting, dynamic, primary characters. Told in the first person, Zelda is a special needs person, who is highly functional adult. We watch her get entangled in some very challenging situations that most people would find difficult to work through. Her ability to apply logic and respond based on her sense of what is morally right is both her biggest strength and at times a great weakness. Even in her failures, she learns This highly engaging debut novel is a very original, unique story with interesting, dynamic, primary characters. Told in the first person, Zelda is a special needs person, who is highly functional adult. We watch her get entangled in some very challenging situations that most people would find difficult to work through. Her ability to apply logic and respond based on her sense of what is morally right is both her biggest strength and at times a great weakness. Even in her failures, she learns and improves. I know a lot of "ordinary" people that can't make that claim.We first meet Zelda and her brother, Gert in their shared apartment on her 21st Birthday. Gert has hired an entertainer (who works primarily as stripper) to dress as a Viking and amaze Zelda with his Viking talents. Zelda is fascinated by Viking culture and believes she is called to live as a Warrior for her tribe, which includes (Gert, Gert's ex girlfriend AK 47 (aka Annie), Marxy (Zelda's boyfriend) and several others at the Community Center, where she spends much of her time developing independent living skills). Zelda decides, she will make a difference in the lives of others by working to protect them from harm. A job she finds increasingly difficult, when she unwittingly messes up her brother's illegal activities working for a local criminal. In the process, Zelda becomes a target which in turn places several others in harm's path, bringing about a major crisis for all of them. As the story progresses, Zelda evolves personally particularly in developing coping skills, perception during difficult moments and responding in positive ways, changing how she thinks about herself and others. This in turn impacts those around her to reevaluate themselves and their actions and their assessment of Zelda. These changes incorporate several positive messages within the story. I truly enjoyed how others benefited from her insights and were motivated to change. Thus, I think that was part of the author's motivation to write her this way.I have been around special needs people throughout my life and had given consideration to making that my life's work. Ultimately, I was strongly urged not to pursue that life. This book gave me a lot to think about. It challenged me to look beyond some of my own assumptions, particularly about the possibilities available to those facing such challenges. We as a society could change more dynamically to allow those who don't fit in the "box", a chance to prove themselves when given a different set of tools. At the takeaway, Zelda proved that her challenges while limiting did not make her a prisoner. Her tribe, her community just needed to identify what resources and adjustments could be made to allow her better autonomy and also incorporate her strengths to make her a more vital contributor to their society. The American culture has taken positive steps in the last twenty years to include handicapped persons in the work environment by making certain minor adjustments, so they can contribute and achieve more. Truly a win/win proposition, but those with cognitive deficits have often been ignored or seen as too unique to "accommodate". I hope this book and others like it, will spark a change in attitudes going forward.While the audience is most likely young adult crowd, this would be an acceptable read for younger readers of strong emotional maturity. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am well past, young adult.Please note, that there are repeated incidents of serious violence (though not gratuitous), also there is a frequent use of vulgar language. Finally, (view spoiler)[.there is an incident where rape is attempted. (hide spoiler)] Sexuality among the cognitively challenged is explored in both sensitive but vulgar terms. I found it to be overly graphic and too detailed. However, I do understand its inclusion in the story and how it connected to the bigger picture. All of these were integral to the overall story.Frankly, this was a very strongly conveyed story and there was no indication that this was a debut work except by the publisher's admission. This is very suited to a movie script and I wouldn't be surprised to see it on the big screen, if it gets the proper marketing. It has "Big Hit" written all over it (well not literally), in fact, my copy was quite clean!Thank you to the Publisher, Gallery/Scout Press, Andrew David MacDonald and Goodreads for providing this ARC in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Bon
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you, Netgalley, for an ARC! Wow, what a good read. A story I was into, with real daily life problems being address by an unlikely heroine you can only root for, with her Viking philosophies quick at hand and a desire to write her own legend.I’d certainly compare this to the Curious Incident of the Dog inasmuch as a young, mentally different protagonist leads the story, and the blunt narration made it easy but also immersive to read… But this was a young woman’s story, one I was infinitely Thank you, Netgalley, for an ARC! Wow, what a good read. A story I was into, with real daily life problems being address by an unlikely heroine you can only root for, with her Viking philosophies quick at hand and a desire to write her own legend.I’d certainly compare this to the Curious Incident of the Dog inasmuch as a young, mentally different protagonist leads the story, and the blunt narration made it easy but also immersive to read… But this was a young woman’s story, one I was infinitely more invested in by only a few pages in. This was a novel full of heart. Zelda’s struggles are framed through her love of Viking culture, and it really showed how she could be just like the rest of us. Her grand Viking legend might have begun with simple goals like get a job, help her tribe/family with money, and defeat growing challenges and villains in her life, but it didn’t make it any less important a Viking tale. Zelda’s bluntness and unflowery narration was really refreshing, and easy to read. Living as one on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, she’s frank about everything from sex and periods to telling off gangsters, and she never seems “less than” despite her cognitive differences. As someone with a brain that also works differently sometimes, I found her sensitivity to smells, noises, and traumatic memories refreshing and relatable to read about. Her brother was an interesting guardian, a rough-looking thuggish type who nonetheless tries his best to keep her living in her comfort zone and goes to school on scholarship. His girlfriend, known as AK47, was a stellar supporting character. Like the title implies, Zelda’s love of Viking culture guides most of the plot, and is simultaneously quirky, charming and so cool. I love that it gave her impetus to study something, to focus hard and absorb so much complex information – she uses norse phrases in daily life and it was cute. I like how she framed her life by Viking guidelines – when her brother and her get off the wrong page, clan meetings are in order; her boyfriend is the fair maiden in her legend; she can be the heroine of her own story and emulate the honored Viking warrior she reads about; and there are villains to defeat in the form of her the drug gang her brother has fallen in with. This book checked a lot of boxes for me. A quirky and cognitive-challenged female protagonist, thorough dissemination of Viking culture throughout the plot in an organic and education manner, relatable life problems beyond Zelda’s obvious challenges, and heartwarming moments of a girl navigating her own quest through a world that doesn’t always understand her. The diversity aspects, the girl-power, the frank narration…I loved it all.
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  • Kerrin Parris
    January 1, 1970
    When We Were Vikings is an unusual book. For my personal preference, I give it a 3-star rating. The story is narrated by Zelda, a 21-year-old high-functioning young woman who was born on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. Her father left home when she was a baby. After her mother died from cancer, she and her brilliant, but thuggish brother, Gert go to live with their uncle. Uncle Richard is truly a terrible person, a Grendel. Desperate to get away from him, Gert borrows money from a thug, who is a When We Were Vikings is an unusual book. For my personal preference, I give it a 3-star rating. The story is narrated by Zelda, a 21-year-old high-functioning young woman who was born on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. Her father left home when she was a baby. After her mother died from cancer, she and her brilliant, but thuggish brother, Gert go to live with their uncle. Uncle Richard is truly a terrible person, a Grendel. Desperate to get away from him, Gert borrows money from a thug, who is a Villian. He and Zelda are able to get their own apartment, but a great deal of trouble comes from having to repay the debt.Zelda knows she is different, and that she is slower to process things. She has help from a kind psychologist and her brother's on-again-off-again girlfriend. She has friends at a local community center, including a boyfriend, who is not as high functioning as Zelda. She copes by following rules and also by following a Code of Vikings, where courage, honor, heroism, and being loyal to her tribe are the most important things. However, life throws things at her that would be difficult for anyone to handle. "Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains."While it seems that Zelda is dependent on others, especially her brother, she proves that she can be a legend in her own right.Would I recommend this book? It depends on who is asking. Teenagers: Absolutely not. My book club: Absolutely Not. There is too much filthy language, sexual situations, including sex between mentally disadvantaged people, and attempted rape. There is also violence and a strong criminal element. I felt very uncomfortable, especially with the constant expletives. But I can see how many people will enjoy the story of Zelda, her quirkiness, and her ability to deal with issues by drawing upon her Viking strength. The relationship between Zelda and Gert is particularly interesting. The ending is uplifting and hopeful.Thank you to NetGalley and to Gallery Books for my Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. This book will be published on January 28, 2020.#WhenWeWereVikings #NetGalleyIf you would like to see my Recipe Recommendation for Legendary Swedish Meatballs, check out my blog, http://www.kerrinsbookreviews.com/whe...
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  • Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    I have an ARC coming! This could be either really good or exploitative and awful.Let's hope it's the former. :)
  • Viral
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Scout Press for the ARC at BEA 2019!This was an interesting, enjoyable, and honestly, empowering book! MacDonald gives us the story of Zelda, a young adult on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, who loves Vikings, honor, legends, and wants to have sex with her boyfriend Marxy, who is bit less independent as her. Zelda grapples with her desires to be like the legends of old, while dealing with problems at home that show how classic stories of good and evil are more complex in real life. Her Thanks to Scout Press for the ARC at BEA 2019!This was an interesting, enjoyable, and honestly, empowering book! MacDonald gives us the story of Zelda, a young adult on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, who loves Vikings, honor, legends, and wants to have sex with her boyfriend Marxy, who is bit less independent as her. Zelda grapples with her desires to be like the legends of old, while dealing with problems at home that show how classic stories of good and evil are more complex in real life. Her brother Gett, their friend AK47, and her doctor Dr. Laird are all interesting and well thoughtout characters and give this book life and relevance. Warning: this book does discuss issues like sexual abuse, rape, and includes some slurs used against Zelda and some of her friends. Overall, a great book that tells an important and different perspective. Highly recommend for all ages, as we should all learn to be as brave and bold as Zelda!
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  • Shelley
    January 1, 1970
    You wouldn't know it by reading the "legends of our own making" blurbs, but this is not an upbeat, uplifting story. At best it's a "intellectually and socioeconomically disadvantaged heroine can kind of cope in the world with a lot of help from savior characters after going through a bunch of really awful stuff." I'm a bit surprised everyone is so overwhelmingly effusive. Is it the novelty of the FAS narrator? Or the tidy-ish ending after what is, mostly, a depressing story? As fond as I am of You wouldn't know it by reading the "legends of our own making" blurbs, but this is not an upbeat, uplifting story. At best it's a "intellectually and socioeconomically disadvantaged heroine can kind of cope in the world with a lot of help from savior characters after going through a bunch of really awful stuff." I'm a bit surprised everyone is so overwhelmingly effusive. Is it the novelty of the FAS narrator? Or the tidy-ish ending after what is, mostly, a depressing story? As fond as I am of the f-word myself, the language began to grate on me, and quickly. Innocent but disastrous first-time sex is fine, but (attempted) rape not so much. In any case: I started reading what I thought would be an analog to the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (although I read that a million years ago, I loved it then) and ended up alarmed that survivors of abuse and rape will be triggered by this "heart-swelling story." (Seriously, marketing people? Seriously?)
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    The main character is a high-functioning young adult diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, so yay for neurodiverse representation! She also loves Vikings and will fight you if you're a villain.
  • Sheena ☆ Oh, the Sheenanigans!
    January 1, 1970
    If you haven't already picked this gem up, the novel is centre around Zelda, a high functioning young adult diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The heroic heroine is a viking enthusiast and uses "Kepple's Guide to the Vikings", a book Zelda reads obsessively as a handbook to her everyday life. The smooth and easy read told in Zelda's perspective is a phenomenal coming-to-age story filled with love, legends, and self-discovery. It was a pull at the heartstrings type of story that further If you haven't already picked this gem up, the novel is centre around Zelda, a high functioning young adult diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The heroic heroine is a viking enthusiast and uses "Kepple's Guide to the Vikings", a book Zelda reads obsessively as a handbook to her everyday life. The smooth and easy read told in Zelda's perspective is a phenomenal coming-to-age story filled with love, legends, and self-discovery. It was a pull at the heartstrings type of story that further enthralled the reader with the out of ordinary characters, storyline, and content.
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  • Joann
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, I won this ARC of "When We Were Vikings" in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks to ScoutPress for the privilege to read this book for my honest review. I personally am not into Vikings, but found this book to be an amazing read for someone as old as I am. I guess we really can go back to our childhood times if we have a good author writing the book and that was true of this one. Kudos to the author for this debut. We are introduced to 21-year-old Zelda, a Viking-obsessed young woman with First of all, I won this ARC of "When We Were Vikings" in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks to ScoutPress for the privilege to read this book for my honest review. I personally am not into Vikings, but found this book to be an amazing read for someone as old as I am. I guess we really can go back to our childhood times if we have a good author writing the book and that was true of this one. Kudos to the author for this debut. We are introduced to 21-year-old Zelda, a Viking-obsessed young woman with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Zelda isn't on our radar as "normal" but she will defend her tribe of Vikings and holds her fragile world together with "lists." Zelda lives with her gruff, tattooed brother who is also her guardian Money is tight, and when Zelda discovers that Gert has resorted to some possibly illegal money-making methods, and Gert decides to help, because helping the tribe is what a Viking warrior does. What follows is by turns funny and tragic as Zelda navigates a new job at the library and also comes across some unsavory people. The guileless Zelda, who narrates, and her fierce love for her family drives her, even if it means running straight into danger. The author avoids over sentimentality and a too-neat resolution. I fell in love with Zelda and I believe most people will also. A brilliant 5 star for an amazing debut.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    To say I adored this book would be an understatement. It's one of those rare novels that's both heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time! Meet 21-yr-old Zelda who was born with fetal-alcohol syndrome and suffers from anxiety and other social issues. She lives with brother Gert who has his own set of problems as he attempts to keep them both afloat and is involved in some shady dealings. The novel is narrated by Zelda who has such a unique voice that endears you to her from the very To say I adored this book would be an understatement. It's one of those rare novels that's both heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time! Meet 21-yr-old Zelda who was born with fetal-alcohol syndrome and suffers from anxiety and other social issues. She lives with brother Gert who has his own set of problems as he attempts to keep them both afloat and is involved in some shady dealings. The novel is narrated by Zelda who has such a unique voice that endears you to her from the very first page. We witness her obsession with Vikings and her determination to become her own legendary Viking hero complete with the six things she must do to fulfill her quest. We see her battle everyday life, things most of us take for granted, but of course are a challenge for her. We witness a first boyfriend, a first job, and those who will take advantage of her because of her inability to understand every social cue. I laughed out loud, I cried, I cheered her on as she battled her own version of evil Grendel and completed her quest. It's simply a lovely novel and I find it hard to believe it's a debut. I await your next book, Mr. MacDonald; you are one of my heroes now!Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    This book appeared in my inbox. I read the blurb and thought I'd give it a try. Yet another instance when I think the "...for fans of..." is somewhat misrepresented.Is this a YA novel? Perhaps. Didn't much matter to me, nor would it change my opinion. I am in the distinct minority of readers--who raved.About love and family. Zelda, a 21-year old woman with fetal alcohol syndrome is under her brother, Gert's care. She's obsessed with the Viking world. Zelda has limitations; but is "high This book appeared in my inbox. I read the blurb and thought I'd give it a try. Yet another instance when I think the "...for fans of..." is somewhat misrepresented.Is this a YA novel? Perhaps. Didn't much matter to me, nor would it change my opinion. I am in the distinct minority of readers--who raved.About love and family. Zelda, a 21-year old woman with fetal alcohol syndrome is under her brother, Gert's care. She's obsessed with the Viking world. Zelda has limitations; but is "high functioning." She views much through her Viking lens.I liked Zelda. BUT. I found this novel very simplistic [did this have to do with the main character? I do not know], somewhat too long, and repetitive. Nonetheless the book often was quite clever and sometimes humorous. And often predictable.A few phrases/descriptions I liked:"She was giving me THE LOOK .THE LOOK is like a missile...it explodes whoever she shoots it at.""...small bulding that looked like a red-brick house that had eaten a lot of glass windows and metal."And it seemed like a little bit of everything has been thrown in: various people on the autism spectrum, gays, Muslims, an abuser, gangsters [for want of a better term], and two kind professionali--a librarian and a psychiatrist. Sometimes very crass.So--read it if you wish, but not on my recommendation.
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  • Keri-Anne
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to #NetGalley and #Simon&SchusterCanada for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. First and foremost, this is a simple book of strength, love, sacrifice and family. Twenty-one year old Zelda was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. After a rough start to life, we meet her living with her brother Gert and she is wonderfully obsessed with Vikings. Gert is having trouble supporting the two of them which causes trouble for him and everyone around him. Zelda takes Thank you to #NetGalley and #Simon&SchusterCanada for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. First and foremost, this is a simple book of strength, love, sacrifice and family. Twenty-one year old Zelda was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. After a rough start to life, we meet her living with her brother Gert and she is wonderfully obsessed with Vikings. Gert is having trouble supporting the two of them which causes trouble for him and everyone around him. Zelda takes it upon herself to follow her journey to become a Viking hero which leads to a heartwarming ending. Things I loved about this book: 1. Everyone supports Zelda in her Norse interests.2. As a Norse enthusiast myself, the details of the sagas and culture were nicely covered. 3. The language, although harsh at times, is realistic. 4. The characters are varied, real and consistent. 5. It's a readable story full of details, beautiful moments and tension. I highly recommend this.
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  • Rick
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to preview this book. Zelda suffers from FAS, but is fairly high functioning. She has an older brother, his "girlfriend" and her own friend , Marxy. Interesting story of how she comes with life. Recommended.
  • Craig Fehrman
    January 1, 1970
    I got to spend some time on the road with Andrew when we were both promoting our books. He's a terrific guy, and he's written a terrific book. The thing that stuck with me is Zelda and her voice and perspective, which are sweet and hilarious and very hard to pull off. If you look up interviews where Andrew talks about how and why he wrote the novel, you'll see why he was able to nail Zelda. If you like funny and sincere fiction, this book is for you!
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  • Allyson Preble
    January 1, 1970
    My opinion on this book drastically changed as I worked my way through it. It started slow and the writing style took a little getting used to. You read from the POV of Zelda, a girl who is on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum and obsessed with vikings. In the beginning the viking facts were...a lot. I took away from the story line for me, rather than adding to it. But as you learn more about Zelda and tribe and everything she is dealing with in her life I began to appreciate how they tied together. My opinion on this book drastically changed as I worked my way through it. It started slow and the writing style took a little getting used to. You read from the POV of Zelda, a girl who is on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum and obsessed with vikings. In the beginning the viking facts were...a lot. I took away from the story line for me, rather than adding to it. But as you learn more about Zelda and tribe and everything she is dealing with in her life I began to appreciate how they tied together. This book takes a turn for the dark and deals with some triggering and adult themes. The ending is heart-wrenching and I can't help being proud of Zelda.If you find this book hard to get into in the beginning, stick with it. I promise it will be worth it in the end. What started as a 2 or 3 easily ended up being a 4 star book.
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  • James
    January 1, 1970
    The story is not only heart-breaking, but also uplifting; not only gut-wrenching, but also encouraging: there is fear, there is humor; there are heroes, there are villains; lists, books, sex, hatred, love, fury, death, life--in short, When We Were Vikings does it all in one sharply and lovely world created by my new super-duper character in fiction, Zelda. As the Sacramento Kings' good old play-by-play announcer Grant Napear says, "If you don't like that, you don't like reading books." At all. The story is not only heart-breaking, but also uplifting; not only gut-wrenching, but also encouraging: there is fear, there is humor; there are heroes, there are villains; lists, books, sex, hatred, love, fury, death, life--in short, When We Were Vikings does it all in one sharply and lovely world created by my new super-duper character in fiction, Zelda. As the Sacramento Kings' good old play-by-play announcer Grant Napear says, "If you don't like that, you don't like reading books." At all.Said that, the novel is not only about Zelda and her quest to be a legend. The supporting cast and their own stories are also strong. They are not there to only populate Zelda's world, a task they do convincingly and lovingly, but to create their own stories or legends as Zelda puts it. That brings you a story with highly-developed characters who act out on their own ambitions and face the consequences when things start to happen (and things will start to happen)--including but not limited to Zelda, her brother Gert, her good friend and Gert's partner AK47. There are more than one endings in the book. And when you finish reading it, each and every one of them will leave you with a different taste and smell and touch. All of them will grant you a different aspect of Zelda's unique world. Then you'll decide to create your own legend in that world.
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  • Barb Martin
    January 1, 1970
    Not all of the monsters are outsiders. Sometimes, the grendels can be part of our own tribes.Andrew David McDonald writes "When We Were Vikings" with the same charm as other books featuring a protagonist who is "different." This story, though, is much darker.Zelda loves vikings. She knows the sagas, the language and the importance of the hero's journey. Her tribe includes an older brother dubbed by others as an angry thug, his former girlfriend who is Zelda's best friend and her friends at the Not all of the monsters are outsiders. Sometimes, the grendels can be part of our own tribes.Andrew David McDonald writes "When We Were Vikings" with the same charm as other books featuring a protagonist who is "different." This story, though, is much darker.Zelda loves vikings. She knows the sagas, the language and the importance of the hero's journey. Her tribe includes an older brother dubbed by others as an angry thug, his former girlfriend who is Zelda's best friend and her friends at the community center. Zelda and her friends all are "different," but in their own ways.Although Zelda's brother, Gert, loves her, his temper and poor choices (Plus a desire to protect her from harm) put the tribe into jeopardy. Although Zelda is afraid, she must be the hero in her own story.There's plenty of foul language and sex in the book, but it also has a lot of heart. Heroes. Monsters. The book is filled with them.
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  • Debi Hawkes
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoyable book. Zelda, the primary character, born on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, was not only interesting, but while creating her own "legend", an outstanding example of family (tribe) love, courage, and devotion.I found the first half of the book to be the best, after that things got a bit "tidy".I received an ARC from NetGalley publisher Simon Schuster in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Lynne Lambdin
    January 1, 1970
    When We Were Vikings is a story surrounding two siblings that are essentially one another’s life. We have our narrator, Zelda, a grown woman who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She loves Vikings and likes rules. Zelda uses the code of Vikings to improve her life and circumstance while also rescuing those she loves. Gert is Zelda’s big brother who supports Zelda solely. He was a young boy pushed into a rough life that can get you into trouble. From there, the siblings try to save one another When We Were Vikings is a story surrounding two siblings that are essentially one another’s life. We have our narrator, Zelda, a grown woman who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She loves Vikings and likes rules. Zelda uses the code of Vikings to improve her life and circumstance while also rescuing those she loves. Gert is Zelda’s big brother who supports Zelda solely. He was a young boy pushed into a rough life that can get you into trouble. From there, the siblings try to save one another from trouble and life. When We Were Vikings is a fairly enjoyable novel. At times, I was a bit bored with the writing. But there were also a lot of scenes and situation that were quite enjoyable and done well. For example, I genuinely enjoyed reading from Zelda’s point of view. The author did a great job of really emulating how a person suffering from FAS might process thoughts and events. Which this can be truly hit and miss. I could not stand reading from Christopher’s POV in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Also, a reader can’t help but to like Zelda. She is a smart girl, it just might take her some time to get there. But she will. Don’t underestimate her. There were a few problems that I had with this novel though. One of the issues that I have are honestly petty as hell. But I am going to go there. Zelda refers to herself as a librarian. Zelda is not a librarian. Zelda is smart enough to be know her proper job title (especially if you consider the ending). I felt like the author didn’t really bother to inquire on what it takes to be a librarian (which is a master’s degree). Alright, now I am done being petty. But I do have one more issue and that is the ending. (view spoiler)[Zelda uses a Viking guideline to be a fierce warrior. This honestly leads to good and bad things. An example of bad, she brings a small sword to confront a drug lord (all by herself) who has threatened her and beat the crap out of her boyfriend. In my personal opinion, this indicates that she might not be developed enough cognitively to make safe decisions. Not to mention that she easily got conned by a bad man, it just took attention. Yet, they just move her into a place all on her own….. oh okay. (hide spoiler)]. Overall, I think that the author portrayed a great deal of talent with this novel. There were some great situations and drama that make this novel enjoyable. But there are also some flaws. And I think the author took some liberties to give Zelda a happy ending that just don’t make sense in the grand scheme of her FAS. That is why I am giving this story a 3.5 star rating and rounding to 4 stars. Thank you NetGalley and Gallery, Picket Books for the advance read.
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  • Michele
    January 1, 1970
    When We Were Vikings is one of those unique and rare finds in the book world. I enjoyed it as I read it but am most impressed by how much it has stuck with me since I finished reading. It is told from the perspective of Zelda, a feisty 21 year old woman who is on the fetal alcohol spectrum. At birth, she wasn't given much hope for a future. However, she's proven all the doubters wrong as she is high functioning with a strong moral compass. Zelda has a fascination with everything related to When We Were Vikings is one of those unique and rare finds in the book world. I enjoyed it as I read it but am most impressed by how much it has stuck with me since I finished reading. It is told from the perspective of Zelda, a feisty 21 year old woman who is on the fetal alcohol spectrum. At birth, she wasn't given much hope for a future. However, she's proven all the doubters wrong as she is high functioning with a strong moral compass. Zelda has a fascination with everything related to Vikings and often sees her own life through a "Viking filter." Her brother, Gert, is the only family Zelda has since her father is not in the picture, her mother died from cancer and her uncle proved to be abusive. Gert is trying to watch out for Zelda but he doesn't always make the right choices either. She also has a group of friends and a boyfriend. Probably one of the characters she is the closest with is her brother's "on again off again" girlfriend, AK47 (Annie).Seeing this story unfold from Zelda's perspective really is the perfect way to somewhat understand what it feels like to "walk in her shoes" and understand how she feels when others talk down to her or underestimate her. It is also extremely painful when she makes mistakes and you're in her head to witness just how hard she is on herself.I am a Viking fan myself, so I loved the tie in with Viking lore. One thing I found interesting is that Zelda is always trying to become legendary throughout the book and she is checking off a list as she goes. The last item on her list is to fight a villain - - which she often believes is a Grendel. Sadly, villains can be those you least expect and Zelda always thought they would be obvious. Unfortunately, she learns that isn't the case. She definitely wins legendary status as a Viking Warrior though...at least in my humble opinion. She's an amazing character and reading this book was an absolute gift!Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery/Scout Press and Mr. MacDonald for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Laura Hill
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Gallery/Scout Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on Jan 28th, 2019.Writing: 4/5 Plot: 4.5/5 Character: 5/521-year old Zelda is obsessed with Vikings. Drawing inspiration from Viking lore, she is writing (and living) her own legend, tackling life with courage and loyalty to her tribe. She was also born on the fetal alcohol syndrome spectrum (FASD) and is aware of needing to take things slowly, Thank you to Gallery/Scout Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on Jan 28th, 2019.Writing: 4/5 Plot: 4.5/5 Character: 5/521-year old Zelda is obsessed with Vikings. Drawing inspiration from Viking lore, she is writing (and living) her own legend, tackling life with courage and loyalty to her tribe. She was also born on the fetal alcohol syndrome spectrum (FASD) and is aware of needing to take things slowly, follow rules, and study things more thoroughly than others. Her brother Gert — with his shaved head, tattoos, and a thug-like exterior — has been taking care of her since he extracted both of them from the abusive Uncle who took them in when their mother died. A remarkable cast of characters populates this unique coming-of-age story as Gert gets into some questionable means of support in a neighborhood rife with violence and trouble … and Zelda tries to help. It has one of the most beautiful, heartfelt, and meaningful endings I’ve ever read. It wasn’t the traditionally happy ending I was expecting, but one in which people had to learn some hard truths about themselves and the people they loved. I particularly appreciated the way nobody was presented as all “bad” or all “good” but merely people trying to do their best, not always succeeding, and coming to terms with how to make the best of what they had.Zelda’s voice is quite engaging. While many reviewers call it “humorous”, I actually found it to be innocent and completely lacking in artifice — which I found quite refreshing. From Zelda directly, galvanized by her Viking research: “Dagaz means to become awake or to transform. That is what I want to do in my legend: I want to go from a normal Viking to a hero.”Highly recommended.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    ReviewWhen We Were Vikingsby Andrew David MacDonaldI adored this book. It is beautifully written, tells a terrific story, has some wonderful characters, especially the truly marvelous Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who shares her story with us. I can only hope that author Andrew David MacDomald has a sequel on the way. I read this book courtesy of the author, NetGallery and publisher Pocket Books. In exchange for an honest review. That's easy: READ THIS BOOK! You will not regret ReviewWhen We Were Vikingsby Andrew David MacDonaldI adored this book. It is beautifully written, tells a terrific story, has some wonderful characters, especially the truly marvelous Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who shares her story with us. I can only hope that author Andrew David MacDomald has a sequel on the way. I read this book courtesy of the author, NetGallery and publisher Pocket Books. In exchange for an honest review. That's easy: READ THIS BOOK! You will not regret it.When We Were Vikings tells the story of Zelda, a developmentally challenged young lady who lives with her older brother a biker/drug dealer, ever since their mom died. As her brother struggles to pay rent and other living expenses, Zelda wonders about her place in the world, struggles for independence and love (she has a boyfriend). Vikings are an important part of Zelda's life, she strives to live her life as a warrior maiden and takes matters into her own hands to protect her brother from 'the bad guys.'What I really appreciate is that MacDonald isn't afraid to face the difficult issue of sex between consenting adults with developmental issues. In fact, he tackles it head on, with frankness, humor and grace. There is so much to love about this book. I hope it gets the attention and praise it deserves.
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  • Rose
    January 1, 1970
    ***I'm not sure who to contact about this, but there is an error on Page 256. It says "I feel asleep with my laptop in my lap" instead of "I fell asleep with my laptop in my lap."I'd like to thank Scout Press/Simon & Schuster for providing me with an Advanced Readers Edition of this book for me to read and review. Although there's pretty mature, triggering topics explored, the book is appropriate for Young Adult and older, and it's one everyone should read. We get an intimate, ***I'm not sure who to contact about this, but there is an error on Page 256. It says "I feel asleep with my laptop in my lap" instead of "I fell asleep with my laptop in my lap."I'd like to thank Scout Press/Simon & Schuster for providing me with an Advanced Readers Edition of this book for me to read and review. Although there's pretty mature, triggering topics explored, the book is appropriate for Young Adult and older, and it's one everyone should read. We get an intimate, inside-the-mind view of a character not common to the literary world: a special-needs 21 year-old woman on the Fetal Alcohol Sprectrum named Zelda. We're privy to her greatest challenges, greatest fears, and her unrelenting bravery in carving out her own path in the world and protecting those she loves at all costs. Her coming-of-age story really pulls at your heartstrings, and you'll find yourself rooting for her throughout all the laughs and cries. Her older brother and caretaker, Gert, was one of the best parts of this story. He is one the most heartbreaking and multi-dimensional characters I've read in quite some time. He represents a very relatable, real-world kind of person: someone who was dealt an unfortunate deck of cards from life, and although his love for his sister inspires him to try to stay on the right path, he falters a lot and makes bad decisions that affect everyone else. One of the most powerful messages in the book was how you can't fix someone else, for they have to become the hero in their own legend. This moral was relevant to both Zelda and Gert, as they both struggled to find themselves without losing sight of each other. The novel was wonderfully done, and it is one that will stay with me for a long time. I will be recommending this one to everyone I know.
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  • Marjorie DeLuca
    January 1, 1970
    This was such a touching story of the deep and caring bond between two siblings, Gert and Zelda, and the courage and resilience of Zelda, a young woman with special needs as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome. Zelda has a love of everything related to Vikings and the story opens on her 21st birthday when Gert "hires a Viking" to appear at Zelda's birthday party. The story really kicks into gear when Gert is accepted into college, but soon seems to be falling into his old ways of alcohol and drug This was such a touching story of the deep and caring bond between two siblings, Gert and Zelda, and the courage and resilience of Zelda, a young woman with special needs as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome. Zelda has a love of everything related to Vikings and the story opens on her 21st birthday when Gert "hires a Viking" to appear at Zelda's birthday party. The story really kicks into gear when Gert is accepted into college, but soon seems to be falling into his old ways of alcohol and drug addiction. Realizing their world is threatened, Zelda decides that she wants to create her own legend and become a Viking warrior protecting those she loves from harm. With her quirky take on life and her charming, fearless voice she sets out to destroy those who would harm her brother. What follows is a rocky and perilous quest that has Zelda calling on all her strength to survive.An inspiring tale with an original take on the lives of those we deem "different" or "special". A great read for those who loved "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time"
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC!This book is beautiful, silly, scary, real, you name it...It had me on a roller coaster of emotions the entire time. When We Were Vikings tells the story of Zelda, a 21-year-old girl who is on the fetal alcohol spectrum. She lives with her brother Gert, who runs with the wrong crowd but does so in order to provide for himself and Zelda. Zelda is a viking enthusiast, and uses a book about vikings as a handbook to life. She follows the rules of Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC!This book is beautiful, silly, scary, real, you name it...It had me on a roller coaster of emotions the entire time. When We Were Vikings tells the story of Zelda, a 21-year-old girl who is on the fetal alcohol spectrum. She lives with her brother Gert, who runs with the wrong crowd but does so in order to provide for himself and Zelda. Zelda is a viking enthusiast, and uses a book about vikings as a handbook to life. She follows the rules of vikings, like defending your tribe and defeating villains. When Zelda tries to defend her brother against the gang he hangs out with, she has to face the biggest villains she's ever seen. With the help of Gert, his girlfriend Annie (nicknamed AK47), her psychologist Dr. Laird, and her friends at the community center, Zelda discovers she can be the hero of her own legend no matter what other people think of her.I absolutely love Zelda and all the other characters in this book. The book is written from her perspective, and because she's on the spectrum she is very honest and open while using basic language. This doesn't make the book read like a children's book though, rather it is a very smooth and easy read. I've never read a book from the perspective of someone who is mentally challenged, so I thought it was interesting to see her thought processes as well as how she interacted with her friends and people around her. I was cheering for Zelda the whole time, hoping she would be successful in writing her own legend. I was happy to see her grow up through the book and learn to do things on her own.I found the overall message of this book to be very inspiring. Sometimes book will over complicate the message or use so much flowery language it takes away from the theme. The simplicity of Zelda's message was so refreshing and encouraging. This isn't in the genre I usually read, but I'm happy I took a chance because this became one of my favorite books I've read this year.
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  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    I received an early copy of this book from Net Galley. The story is told from the point of view of Zelda, a woman who was born with mental defects due to her mother’s alcoholism during pregnancy. Zelda lives with her older brother, Gert, who does his best to take care of her, but is having a hard time taking care of himself. Zelda loves Viking legends and decides that she needs to become legendary by fighting villains, going on quests, and even earning the love of a fair maiden. I found this I received an early copy of this book from Net Galley. The story is told from the point of view of Zelda, a woman who was born with mental defects due to her mother’s alcoholism during pregnancy. Zelda lives with her older brother, Gert, who does his best to take care of her, but is having a hard time taking care of himself. Zelda loves Viking legends and decides that she needs to become legendary by fighting villains, going on quests, and even earning the love of a fair maiden. I found this book unusual for the sensitive way it treated Zelda and her strengths and weaknesses. It took a very humanitarian approach to mental limitations. I didn’t necessarily think the other characters were as well developed as the protagonist, and I don’t feel that the story will stock with me for a long time, but it was a good way to spend a few hours.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    This is a beautiful story that is narrated by Zelda, a young adult with fetal alcohol syndrome who is entranced by Vikings and tries to live by their values. While she idolizes her older brother, Gert, Zelda ends up surpassing him in courage and morals. Despite some harsh realities, she proves to everyone that she is not as limited as they think she is. Women are the heroes in this story, both Zelda and Gert's girlfriend, Annie, who is on a quest of her own. Highly recommended for those who This is a beautiful story that is narrated by Zelda, a young adult with fetal alcohol syndrome who is entranced by Vikings and tries to live by their values. While she idolizes her older brother, Gert, Zelda ends up surpassing him in courage and morals. Despite some harsh realities, she proves to everyone that she is not as limited as they think she is. Women are the heroes in this story, both Zelda and Gert's girlfriend, Annie, who is on a quest of her own. Highly recommended for those who enjoy Young Adult and Adult fiction.
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