Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide
Questions for Understanding
- Which relative did Anna feel close to before she left Sweden as a child?
- Which musical instrument did James teach Fionn when the whole family lived together in America?
- Aside from Anna, which three adults helped the grieving siblings?
- What happened while Anna, Michael and the “little kids” were out for the day?
Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion
- Which part of this chapter struck you the most? Why?
- In the first scene section, Anna talks about the importance of her grandmother. What do you think Anna learned from her grandmother?
- Regarding food, the chapter says, “In the absence of anything else, there was always flour, butter, milk, and cheap jam for pancakes.” Do you think this is typical? In your culture, would this be the food which is always available?
- Anna gave Fionn money for food, but the rule was that he should come home for dinner with the family. For a teenager of 15, which of these two do you think is a better approach?
Ideas for Further Consideration
- Anna “played the American card” when she told Fionn his girlfriend couldn’t sleep over. Do you think her feelings were based on American culture or something else?
- Every family has a “microculture.” In this chapter, Anna contrasts her American home environment with what she is experiencing. For example, she mentions the religious law forbidding alcohol. What is your home’s “microculture” like? Is it typical of the greater society around you?
- Anna used her deep and quiet “don’t mess with the mama” voice when parenting Fionn. What are some of your favorite parenting techniques, and why?
Especially for English Language Learners
Key Words and Expressions:
“What goes around, come around…” = Whatever you do, good or bad, will come back to you. (p. 76)
“Fionn had stepped way over the line” = He had done something wrong. (p. 76) (expression: to step over the line)
“had gone looking for trouble” = had done something which would naturally lead to trouble or punishment (p. 76) (expression: to go looking for trouble)
“kids test you” = kids do things which provoke you to correct them (p.76)
“I was on a roll and chewed him out.” = I was speaking continuously, and I scolded him. (p. 77)
This chapter is full of expressions which help you understand the story and improve your English at the same time! Here are some more, with explanations.
This is a humorous expression which comes from the expression “holding court.” This means being surrounded by admirers, such as when a royal person was surrounded by courtiers (their royal companions and advisors.) Imagine a palace and a room where elegant people come and go while the queen sits and greets them.
“…I instinctively knew that my first job in Sweden was in the kitchen. I parked myself there, holding Mom-court and interacting….”
the midnight sun
Norway, Sweden’s neighbor, is known as the “land of the midnight sun.” This means that in the summer, the sun in the north does not go down, even at midnight. Like Norway, Sweden is very bright in the summer, and even in Stockholm, it is bright for most of the night in June.
“It was June, the month of the midnight sun, and Sweden kids and teens…”
a scream fest
This is a humorous expression which comes from the expression “something+ fest.” Fest means a party (festival, large gathering, celebration), and it means there was lots of action and activity. Of course, a festival is supposed to involve something positive, which is why this is funny.
“It became a scream fest with door slamming….”
Other examples with -fest:
A gab fest (People sitting around and gabbing, or talking casually.)
A lobster fest (a large gathering to sell and eat lobster)
A harvest fest or festival (a large gathering to celebrate the harvest)
Answers to Part 1
- Her Farmor (paternal grandmother)
- James taught him to play the trombone.
- Marie, who had stepped in as legal guardian, and Lena and Lars Kivi, who took care of Sinead and Lars just before and after their father’s death.
- Fionna and Sen got into a physical fight.