Tuesday 14 May 2013

#CBR5 Book 50. "Sandor slash Ida" by Sara Kadefors

Page count: 284 pages
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb, as it sums up the first impression of the characters quite well: She's pretty and popular. He's a nobody. She lives in the middle of Stockholm. He lives in a hole outside Gothenburg. She spends hours in cafes with her friends, he devotes all his time to dance. She's fed up with sex, he's a virgin. She gets called bimbo, he gets called fag. She hates her life. He hates his life. Her name is Ida. His is Sandor.

 Ida's father lives in the US, with his new wife and children. Ida is left, trying to cope as best she can, even though her mother suffers from deep depression (and likely alcoholism, as well). Ida has to be the grown up, making sure that the rent and bills are paid, that groceries are bought and dinner is made. She's very pretty, seemingly a ditzy party girl, who secretly loathes her Mean Girl lifestyle and super popular friends, who she can't really talk to about anything important. She knows that if she tells anyone about her mother's neglect, Social Services are likely to come and put her in a foster home.

Sandor is the middle child of Hungarian immigrants. His mother used to be a top class ballet dancer, and desperately wants her children to follow in her footsteps. Sandor's younger sister has already decided she never wants to dance again, but Sandor loves the ballet, and practises four times a week, enduring the jeers and taunts of most of his classmates. He's in love with Christina, one of the girls in his ballet class, but barely has the courage to say hello to her at practise, let alone confess his feelings. One day, when his mother's sky high expectations towards him feels especially heavy, and the jerks on the bus have been more offencive than usual, he goes online and pours out his frustration in a chat forum. Only Ida, feeling very similarly, is the only one who sends him a serious response. Soon the two strike up a friendship by e-mail, which impacts on their lives in more ways they could have imagined at first.

The story of Sandor and Ida is told in changing perspectives all through the book, we get to see both the teenagers' lives, from their own point of view. A fair bit of the first half is told through the e-mails Sandor and Ida send each other, and show the ways in which they pretend to be someone they're not to the stranger they've met on the internet. Neither is able to keep up the pretence for very long, however. Though from very different backgrounds, they are both teenagers, struggling with doubts, insecurities, hopes and dreams. The book is just as much about the two protagonists discovering who they are, and want to become in the future, as finding friendship, and later possibly something more. It's not a book I'd heard of before, but one of the more enjoyable ones I've read this semester.

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