Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide
Questions for Understanding
- What time of year was it during the move, and how did that impact the story?
- What did Anna do in response to the stress at her work?
- When had Fionn calmed down?
- Who lived in the apartment, and what did they do together?
Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion
- How would you describe the move from the temporary apartment to the new one? Have you ever experienced a difficult move?
- In this chapter, Anna quits her job. Do you think it was a reasonable thing to do? Why, or why not?
- This chapter covers a period of six months, from January to June 2016. What is happening with each of the kids, and how do you think this will play out in future chapters?
- When the family finds marijuana under Fionn’s bed during the move, the author says, “I was from Seattle, where a little marijuana was no big deal.” Do you think this influenced how she responded? How would you have responded?
Ideas for Further Consideration
- In the paragraphs which follow, “When I thought about the kids who did consider me their mother,” why do you think the author lists the children one by one and discusses how each one is doing? Do you think it’s important to the story?
- The Swedish foster care system “surprised and delighted” Anna because it lets foster children to travel internationally. This allows Anna to serve as foster parent while still maintaining her international life. Discuss how government policies, such as this one, can help or hinder someone who tries to help others.
- What are your thoughts on drug treatment for teens? Which of the systems described in this chapter do you think is more effective?
Especially for English Language Learners
Key Words and Expressions:
“threw a monkey wrench into the whole day.” = ruined the plan and made things not work anymore (p. 150)
“until he knocked it off” = until he stopped behaving in this way (p. 151)
“just stupid kid stuff” = something not very serious; something that children do (p. 151)
“What was I doing here?” = why was I here; “Why am I here?” (p. 151)
“Those hopes were fading.” = It was becoming clear that those hopes would not become reality. (p. 152)
Using Would in Storytelling
When you read a story which is written in the past tense, sometimes you see “would” when it doesn’t appear to mean past tense “will.” This is a special usage of “would,” which means that something was happening again and again, as a habit. Using “would” in this way can be confusing, which is why it is very important to introduce the situation first, to firmly establish the scene in past tense.
On page 155, the situation is introduced in the paragraph before this usage of “would”:
I took the opportunity to revisit Sinead’s daily ritual with her ADHD pill… I decided to use the parenting technique of being an annoying little pest about it.
The next paragraph tells the repetitive actions which followed this:
Every few days, I’d make a casual comment about how easy it might be just to swallow the pill whole. One day I’d comment with sympathy about how bitter it must taste, another day I’d tell her a long and elaborate story about how I learned to take pills myself.
NOTE: It can be very hard to know if the contraction “d” means “had” or “would.” The way to know is through your knowledge of grammar.
I’d rather have some coffee. = I would rather have some coffee. (If you know the expression, “would rather,” this is easy to figure out.)
I wasn’t hungry because I’d had lunch already. = I wasn’t hungry because I had had lunch already. (If you know how to use past perfect tense to express actions in a past tense story, then you will know that the contraction here means “had.” Also, modal verbs, such as “would,” must be followed by a plain verb. Here the next word is in past tense, so it is not possible for the contraction to mean “would.”
Answers to Part 1
- It was New Year’s weekend, so the social worker didn’t call back.
- She quit her job.
- In the spring, when Anna returned from a visit to Seattle.
- Cara, Fionn, Sinead, and Anna lived in the apartment, and they all ate dinner together “like a happy little family of four.”