Chapter 17: Staking My Claim

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. Was Anna happy about moving back into Kevin’s apartment?
  2. What did Anna’s contract with Fionn say she had to stop doing?
  3. Which of the other children lived with Anna, Sinead, and Fionn now?
  4. What did Anna do as her second Christmas in Sweden was approaching?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. What part of this chapter struck you the most? Why?
  2. As this chapter opens, Anna is starting her second year in Sweden. How are things different now than when she, Sinead, and Fionn first started living together?
  3. Anna describes her relationship with Fiyori as, “No planning, no formalities. Easy.” Based on this description, how do you think she feels, in contrast, about Swedish culture?
  4. Clearly, Anna has mixed feelings about Kevin and their relationship. Do you think this is typical in the case of divorce, or is something else in play here? Can you relate to her feelings?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • This chapter considers the changes which happen when someone adjusts to a new culture or new circumstances. What role do you think time plays in adjustments we make in life? How long does it usually take to adjust to something life-changing? Do we ever totally adjust?
  • When we have mixed feelings about someone who has passed away, what are some ways to deal with that?
  • At the end of the chapter, Anna hopes to come back from Israel with some inspiration and answers. Do you have special places you go to for inspiration, or which inspire you when you think about them? Why are they special?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

(from page 173)

“stood arms akimbo” = stood with fists on hips and elbows out at a sharp angle, as if facing a challenger in a fight or as if preparing for a confrontation.

“staring down” = staring at something like you are trying to conquer it. (Imagine staring at a person until your stare forces the person to look down.)

“purge the space” = remove impurities; make pure. In this case, the meaning is emotional, but it can be physical. For example, when someone vomits, their body removes impurities from the stomach.

“a light sleeper”= someone who easily awakens. A heavy sleeper will usually continue sleeping even if there are noises or other disturbances.

Grammar Focus:

More Past Perfect Tense in Storytelling

Let’s take another look at this tense since it appears so often in this book. When you read a story which is written in the past tense, it is common to see past perfect tense. This means something happened before the past tense action.

The form of the past perfect is HAD + PAST PARTICIPLE:

= had insisted

= had started

= had waited

= had used

Remember, for past participles, regular verbs have the same form in simple past and present participle (as in the above examples), while irregular verbs have unique past participles (as below).

= had driven (not ‘had drove’)

= had written (not ‘had wrote’)

= had seen (not ‘had saw’)

Here is an example from page 172, where past perfect appears naturally in the story:

“Seriously, when are you going to stop that?” he asked one morning as he wrapped a paper napkin around the open-faced sandwich I had made him for breakfast. Today was one of the good days. He was dressed and showered, and I wasn’t sighing as I threw away the sandwich in the trash. He was an hour late, but at least we hadn’t gotten into a screaming match and (hadn’t) ended up on opposite sides of a slammed door.”

Answers to Part 1

  1. No. She had “a bit of an attitude” about having to move back into her ex-husband’s house.
  2. She had to stop threatening to leave.
  3. Sean. He was the only one of the older kids to stay. Cara had moved out again.
  4. She bought white paper star lanterns for the windows, and she decorated with red placements, traditional postcards, and a Christmas tree from the downstairs storage.

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