When We Were Vikings

When We Were Vikings

A Novel

Book - 2020 | First Scout Press hardcover edition
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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.
Publisher: New York :, Scout Press,, 2020
Edition: First Scout Press hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781982126766
Branch Call Number: F MAC
Characteristics: 326 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

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Dec 28, 2020

Globe 100 2020. Differently abled heroine. Astute and full of heart.

Aug 27, 2020

Oh my! A new, and all at once, legendary Canadian author. Two of my favourite things: Vikings and neuroatypical people. They make the world a fascinating place. I am so "happ" to have another great title to suggest to my library "gestrs".

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin May 02, 2020

I found this young heroine with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder really engaging. I'm not sure how well this will hold up to scrutiny of those who have or are close to someone with this condition...the author danced a very fine line between "character traits" and "symptoms of the condition." That said, it is lovely to see a main character who is neuroatypical and the hero of their own story at the same time.

Apr 14, 2020

An incredible honest and raw read, I found this book so incredible and I loved the blatant authority of this style.

Zelda is obsessed with Vikings, their culture and Norse myths and their language, everything relates back to Vikings in her mind, they help her make sense of the world and understand the complicated way things work. This is a lovely book inside the mind of someone who we see as "different" when really Zelda is just like anyone else, she has determination, strength and honor.
Highly recommend! 4/5

AlishaH_KCMO Mar 04, 2020

When We Were Vikings is about Zelda, a high functioning 21 year old diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, who is a Viking enthusiast trying to figure out her life quest. Zelda lives with her brother Gert after both of their parents died when they were young. Gert and his on again/off again girlfriend Annie, whom Zelda calls AK47, make up Zelda's main tribe. Together, they try to figure out their legacies.

Andrew David MacDonald delivered an amazing story. I absolutely adored the character of Zelda. The way she loved Vikings and applied the Viking culture to make it through life's difficulties was endearing. I loved Zelda and I just wanted her to succeed. Her blunt, unembellished language was easy to read and refreshing. Whether it's telling off thugs or talking about sex and periods, Zelda says what she thinks.

Her brother Gert also tried to figure out how to not only live his life and figure the world out, but also tried to help Zelda figure hers out. He attempted to work with the cards he'd been dealt, but in all honesty, he seemed to constantly grab from the pile ones that just made life harder - he was always making messes that others were cleaning up after, even Zelda herself. I just wanted to sit him down and tell him to get it together and keep it together.

This book had a lot of concepts in it that worked for me. The characters are both quirky and realistic. It's endearing and heartwarming; it's full of love and hate. Some portions of the book made me laugh out loud while others made me want to slam the book shut out of frustration. It had some light themes but also some pretty dark themes. When We Were Vikings earned a spot on my Recommended Fiction List.

"...The point is you're willing to give it a try. That's what makes someone a legend."

Feb 23, 2020

This is a truly well-written and realistic debut novel. It’s full of wit and drama with a guileless, but tenacious protagonist. The secondary characters help shape the convincing and well-rounded story by giving even more insight to Zelda’s first person perspective. The open ending is perfect and only strengthens the story’s realism. I recommend this original and fascinating debut.

Feb 18, 2020

Most appropriate for teen readers. Ideas and sentences tended to be short and choppy. I chose to not finish reading the book as I found it quite boring.

Jan 24, 2020

I loved the cover. Loved the synopsis of the plot. Then I started reading. Within a few pages, the crude language and crass descriptions of sexual situations began. I kept reading, hoping the expletives and creative four-letter insults would disappear. They did not -- even when Zelda was working at her library job! For me, this book had so much promise. I just can't think of anyone I would recommend it to. "Ginny Moon" by Benjamin Ludwig does a much better job helping us to understand a young woman with fetal alcohol syndrome.

DCLadults Jan 15, 2020

A New & Noteworthy Fiction pick. Zelda loves Vikings and knows everything about them. She also was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, but that doesn't stop her from becoming a hero. An original, offbeat debut.


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Feb 26, 2021

Orphans, Zelda, 21 yr old w fetal alcohol syndrome, on path to independence, and brother Gert. Gert makes bad choice to deal drugs to get money to move out of home of their uncle, who was abusing Zelda. Girlfriend Annie

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