Chapter 13: Johnny Dolphin

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. Which Swedish word did Anna only know half of?
  2. Why did Anna avoid the children’s clothing store after that day?
  3. What did Anna’s second grade teacher refuse to do?
  4. Which holiday made Anna think back to her childhood and identity?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. When Anna learned what horabyxor meant, she was thoroughly embarrassed that she had gone around saying it. How would you have felt in her situation? Can you think of a similar situation from your own life?
  2. As a child in America, it was important to Anna and her brother to eat turkey on Thanksgiving so they could fit in. Thinking back to your own childhood, which things were important to you in this way? Did you have them or long for them?
  3. For the young Anna, the proper pronunciation of her name was very important. On the other hand, her brother became known as Johnny Dolphin. Why do you think that may have been? In general, how do you think our names affect/reflect our identity?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • This chapter introduces the shopping incident as “downright funny.” Why do you think it can be seen as humorous? What is it about embarrassment that can make us think back on it and laugh?
  • The description of Anna’s childhood begins because she is sitting on a subway feeling homesick. Which holidays are particularly important to you, if any? In what way(s)?
  • Are holidays and rituals important for maintaining a culture? How do we see this playing out in today’s global society?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“Now I was on a mission.” = Now I felt I had an important goal. (p. 131)

It was me against the horabyxor.” = It was like a sports game or a match to see who would win (p. 131)

“Life was rolling a hundred miles an hour.” = It seemed like life was going very fast (page 132)

“Are not!…Am so!” = This is how children argue. It means “You are not!” and “Yes, I am!” (p. 134)

“D’yous guys have turkey on Thanksgiving?” = This is Philadelphia dialect. She is making “you” plural by saying “yous.” It means “Did you have turkey…” (p. 136)

Language Focus:

Expressing Dialogs

Most of the time in this book, when a person speaks, the book uses the simple dialog tag, “said.” Sometimes, though, different tags are used. It is the author’s choice whether to use mostly “said” or use more expressive tags. The reason for using “said” is that most readers will read the word automatically, and it will not interrupt or interfere with their enjoyment of the story. One reason for using other words is to express something more specific.

Here are some examples of tags other than “said”:

“Are not!” he shouted. (p.134)

“Am so!” I insisted. (p. 134)

“Oh, come on, Mom. We have to have turkey and potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving,” I whined. (p. 135)

“Guess what?” whispered Sinead as soon as Marie had left. (ch.12, p. 127)

Answers to Part 1

  1. Horabyxor. She knew that the second half meant “pants.”
  2. Because she was embarrassed. She had gone in and asked for whore-pants.
  3. She refused to pronounce Anna’s name correctly. She pronounced it with the vowel in “can” instead of rhyming with “Donna.”
  4. Thanksgiving Day

Chapter 12: Double Trouble

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. Where was Anna when she got the text about an apartment offer?
  2. What did Fionn do when Anna texted him angrily?
  3. Why did Sinead get very angry and agitated? What started it?
  4. Did Anna accept the apartment offer?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. This chapter shows a day when Anna is not her best at parenting. How might she have avoided letting the situation deteriorate into a crisis?
  2. Towards the end of the day, Anna interprets the situation as Sinead having successfully punished her for taking Sinead’s phone. Do you agree with this? What are some ways family members might consciously (or unconsciously) punish each other?
  3. Anna rejects the apartment because it is so small that, “There would be no space for the kids and me to escape from each other.” How important do you think private space is in this situation? Would you have made the same decision?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • This chapter describes a crisis which happens in the middle of something optimistic (the apartment offer.) Have you ever experienced two things happening on the same day which cause opposite types of feelings? What happened?
  • This chapter also deals with the very serious issue of teen mental health. When a teen is distraught, what are some important things to keep in mind? Is there a specific protocol one should follow?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

(All from p. 123)

“slamming the door in your face.” = closing the door rudely and loudly while the other person is standing at the door

“I rattled off a response…” = I responded very quickly, typing fast

“a spoiled little brat” = an unruly child (This is not a kind thing to call someone.)

“back-and-forth spats” = small arguments with dialogue

“Sometimes it deteriorated into this.” = It sometimes got worse and became this. It went down to this level.

Grammar Focus:


In math, parallel lines are those which never meet. They go in the same direction. In grammar, parallelism means that the members of a list are all the same part of speech. For example, they are all nouns or all verbs. This is important in writing because it helps the reader understand the sentence.

Here are two examples:

(Chapter 12, page 123)

“The lady behind the desk smiled as she looked over my resume, thought for a moment, and suggested I work as an interpreter.”

Note that “looked,” “thought,” and “suggested” are all verbs. They all fit perfectly with the subject “she.” Each one can function separately. For example, “She suggested I work as an interpreter.” Because they are written in a parallel way, the sentence makes sense.

(Chapter 13, page 133)

“I was sitting in a subway train full of Swedish people, immigrants, and visitors from all over Europe.”

Note that “Swedish people,” “immigrants,” and “visitors” are all nouns or noun phrases. They all fit perfectly with the phrase “train full of” which comes before the list. Because they are parallel, it is easy for the reader to understand and follow the sentence.

Here is an example of a mistake:

“…a train full of Swedish people, immigrants, and some people were visiting.” (This almost makes sense because the part which is not parallel is the last one.)

And a bigger mistake: a train full of Swedish people, and immigrants were sitting there, and visitors.” (This is very confusing because the reader cannot find the logical connect back to “train full of…” The reader can get lost.)

Answers to Part 1

  1. She was downtown, outside the Public Employment Office.
  2. He replied, “BLOCK.” He blocked her messages.
  3. Anna took her phone.
  4. No. The apartment was too small.

Chapter 11: The Housing Market

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. What did Marie offer Anna? Why?
  2. Where did Anna finally find an apartment?
  3. What did Marie explain Anna still needed in order to get an apartment?
  4. What kind of job did Anna get?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. What do you think of the housing list system in Sweden? Have you ever experienced something like that?
  2. It seems like Anna got stuck between being a native person and having newly arrived. In your opinion, should the government have treated her more like an immigrant, since she had been gone since childhood?
  3. Have you ever had the experience of falling into “the gaps between the boxes that label people”? If so, what happened?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • On the Stockholm housing list, “Nicer meant bigger; desirable meant central.” (p. 111) Is this also true where you live? If not, how do people judge which homes are nicer and/or more desirable than others? What’s your dream home?
  • The neighborhood of Rinkeby is described as having a large community of refugees whose culture differs from typical Swedish culture. What are your thoughts about housing as related to segregation or, perhaps, racism? Are neighborhoods integrated where you live? Do people of different groups get along, and are they offered the same opportunities in housing?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“a little like Dorothy landing outside of Kansas.” = This refers to the movie, The Wizard of Oz. It means Anna feels like she’s in an unknown, strange place. (p. 111)

“It turned out…” =  In the end… or I learned that… (p.113)

“…for astronomical amounts.” = for a very large amount of money (p. 115)

“…everyone wanted to make a buck.” = Everyone wanted to make money. (p.115)

“…it didn’t completely throw me off.” = It didn’t surprise me enough to interrupt my plan or my way of thinking. (p. 116) (To understand this, it might be helpful to imagine being in a train going somewhere; when the train shakes, the movement is not strong enough to ‘throw you off’ the train.)

Language Focus:

This chapter is full of Words that Describe People. Let’s take a look. Are any of these new to you?

Researcher = someone, such as a university professor, who does research

Foster parent = a person who serves as official parent or guardian for a child who needs a parent

Ex-husband = a husband after divorce; his wife becomes his ex-wife

Do-gooder = someone who tries to do good things. (This expression is often used in a slightly negative way, like the person is well-meaning but unrealistic.)

Youth = young person. Depending on the context, this can be a child, a teenager, or a young adult. This word also means the young period of life, for example, “In my youth, I rode horses.”

Pensioners = retired people; senior citizens; seniors. It means someone who receives a pension. (Note: This word is not used much in American English. Americans prefer the other three expressions.)

Customer = someone who buys something

Potential renter = someone who might rent

Contact person = the person at a program or organization that you communicate with when you are not part of that group

Foreigner = a person from a different country. (Note: This word can feel negative. It can feel like the person doesn’t belong. We also use this word for objects which don’t belong, such as a “foreign object in my eye.” Therefore, other words, such as newcomer or immigrant or visitor are often used instead.)

Immigrants = people who move and settle into a place. (Emigrants are people who move away. This word is used less often.)

Advisor = a person who gives advice. It can be a job title, such as an “Academic Advisor” at a school or college.

Director = This is usually a job title, such as the director of a school or program. (This word is also used for the director of a movie.)

Answers to Part 1

  1. Basically, an apartment. She offered Anna her own spot on the housing list because she didn’t need it and Anna was too far down on the list.
  2. On Facebook.
  3. An official, Swedish income; a job in Sweden.
  4. She became a Swedish teacher for newcomers to Sweden.

Chapter 10: Cheerios

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. Which of Anna’s American children could also become Swedish citizens?
  2. What type of apartment did Anna, Fionn, and Sinead finally get?
  3. Which two pieces of furniture did Fionn want to take with him?
  4. How were Fionn’s and Sinead’s approaches to their alarm clocks different?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. Anna presents a contrast between the educational systems in Stockholm and Seattle. Does it seem reasonable to you? Which types of education systems exist where you live, and what do you think of them?
  2. Anna tries to convince Fionn to sit and learn vocabulary words, while Fionn considers it a waste of time. What do you think?
  3. In Kevin’s home, cereal was considered special because it was more expensive than other breakfast foods. Which foods were considered special in your home while you were growing up? Was that typical of the culture around you? What are some things about food in which your family was unusual or unique, or which are memorable to you?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • The beginning of the chapter refers to Syrian refugees feeling their homeland in the fall of 2015. Do you remember this? What scenes come to your mind when you think of the word, “refugee”?
  • At one point, Anna turns her head up to heaven and says, “Kevin!” She calls him a ghost but talks to him anyway. What are your thoughts on this? Is she really talking to him? Why might a person talk to people who are not physically present?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“dragging its feet” = doing things very slowly; refusing to become active (p.100)

“an ultimatum” = This is the type of threat where someone says, “Do this or it’s the end.” (p.100)

“playing hardball” = acting aggressively; acting without compassion or pity (p. 100)

“ceremoniously” = acting with drama or in such a way as to draw attention (p. 106)

Grammar Focus:

Adjective Clauses in Storytelling

An adjective clause is basically a long adjective clause that comes directly after a noun. Here are three examples.

I have a good friend.

= I have a friend who is good.

Macy’s is a big store.

= Macy’s is a store which is big.

= Marcy’s is a big store which is fun to shop at.

We use “who,” “which,” or “that” to start an adjective clause. Sometimes we use “where” and “when.” If you write adjective clauses, remember to always start them directly after the noun.

Here are some examples from Chapter 10:

I settled into my seat and pulled out my new, noise-cancelling headset, which I hoped would provide me with some sleep in the coming weeks.  

After I unpacked my suitcases in Sinead’s room (which she and I shared alone now…

T-Centralen square, where the subway lines and inter-city trains met in central Stockholm, had transformed into a regional processing center…

We lived about a kilometer from Centrum, which was the desirable part of each neighborhood.

Q: Why do we use adjective clauses?

A: It’s because, in English, we cannot put a long adjective before a noun. It is awkward to say, for example, “I have an interested in medical sciences friend.” It sounds better to say, “I have a friend who is interested in medical sciences.

Answers to Part 1

  1. None of them (except Michael, who was already a Swedish citizen through Kevin.) They were all over 18 when Anna regained her citizenship.
  2. It was a temporary apartment which was meant for women and children escaping domestic abuse.
  3. His bed and his heavy desk
  4. Sinead got up right away and left for school early, while Fionn waited until the last possible minute.

Chapter 9: Swedish Again

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. What was Anna’s relationship to duct tape?
  2. How did Anna reward Fionn for helping her move?
  3. If Marie’s apartment was small, why was it so amazing?
  4. What did Anna’s mother do when Anna was 14?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. This chapter starts with Anna moving out of Kevin’s apartment because she needs to sleep better. What role do you think selfcare pays in caring for others? In your case, what do you need in order to function adequately?
  2. Anna ponders if her expectation of Fionn to carry her suitcase come from sexism, her age, or perhaps American culture. What do you think?
  3. While at the Baha’i Center, Anna writes reconnects with a friend who is a professional social worker. In this way, she gets some emotional support. What are some various ways of getting emotional support, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? For example, is it preferable to speak to family and friends, or is seeing a professional better?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • What role do you think food plays in culture and one’s connection to a culture? How is this expressed in your own life?
  • In which ways do you think it can be different for a child to be raised by a single dad versus a single mom? Is it important to have two parents at home? Why, or why not?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“a Honey-Do list” = a list of chores for a husband, lovingly requested. “Honey” is a term for one’s sweetheart or spouse, and “honeydew,” which sounds the same as “honey do” is a sweet melon. (p.88)

“a strapping 16-year-old” = a strong, tall, healthy young man (p. 88)

“my Swedish person-number”= This is a direct translation of the Swedish word, personnummer, which is an official ID number, similar to an American Social Security Number. The is no perfect word for this in English. (p.95)

“bursting with goodies” = very full of candy and treats (p. 96)

Language Focus 1:

Writing About Money

  1. When writing about dollars, remember to put the dollar symbol before the number even though you read it after the number.

For example:

$25 = twenty-five dollars

$6,000 = six thousand dollars

(Do NOT write 24$ or 6,000$. That’s a mistake.)

2. Money in foreign currency is usually explained if the amount is important.

For example:

“‘Don’t forget the 475kr fee’. That was $50, amazingly cheap.” (ch. 8, p. 83)

Language Focus 2:

Reading Unfamiliar Words

When you read a story and encounter an unfamiliar word, sometimes the author explains it in the next sentence or next phrase. This is because the author assumes it is unfamiliar to most people. This is especially true when the word is in italics. (Authors use italics to mark non-English words, for example.)

Therefore, don’t stop reading! Read at least one sentence more to see if the author explains the word before running to a dictionary!

Princess Cake. The cake got its name from a Swedish princess…this amazing, marzipan covered, whipped cream filled cake…” (p.92)

“…Meny 1 or Meny 2 (which is what they called set meals)…” (p. 93)

Hej då in Swedish to say good-bye at the end.” (p.93)

“…legitimation, which is what an ID card is called in Swedish.” (p.94)

”…Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, the Scandinavian Individual Bank…” (p. 95)

Answers to Part 1

  1. She used it for everything that didn’t require a professional. She basically used it instead of a husband for fixing thing.
  2. She stopped for food along the way. She took him out to eat.
  3. It was located in a famous neighborhood with trendy restaurants and cafes.
  4. She made an amazing Swedish Christmas dinner for 40 people.

Chapter 8: The Meeting

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. What type of friend was Marie?
  2. Who attended the meeting?
  3. What happened to Rory as a result of the meeting?
  4. What type of online form did Anna fill out after the meeting?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. On page 82, Anna says that “if you gave life an inch, it took a mile.” In this case, what did she mean? Did she want to become a Swedish citizen again? If not, what did she want?
  2. Describe Sinead’s personality. In what ways do you think it will be challenging to parent her? In what ways could it be easy?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • In this situation, Anna decides to take a year off from work and take care of the children. Have you ever taken time off from work to do something specific? What types of things might cause you to willingly interrupt your regular life pattern?
  • Have you ever attended a meeting that completely changed your life? If so, what type of meeting was it, and how did your life change?
  • The last section of this chapter refers to online dangers. In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of social media and its possible dangers?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“…pay the HOA fees…” = This means the Home Owners Association fees, which means Anna’s home is a condominium. She owns it, but it is part of a community of homes. (p. 80)

“the long-awaited meeting” = something (here, a meeting) someone has waited for for a long time (p. 80)

“if you gave life an inch, it took a mile” = This means that if you give a little concession (compromise), it will encourage someone to take much more. For example, if you give a small thing to someone, they will become greedy and try to get more and more. (p. 82)

“…she was quite a conversationalist.” = Sinead was good at talking and holding conversations with people; she was friendly and outgoing. (p. 84)

“…a lot of coined phrases…” = It means she was using expressions which she had probably heard from other people. She was copying expressions from somewhere. (p.84)

“Easier said than done.” = This is something which is easy to talk about but hard to accomplish. (p.86)

Grammar Focus:

Reported Speech

Sometimes we can expression speech without using quotation marks. This is called “reported speech” and has some grammar rules.

  1. It is common to use “said that” or “told me that” to begin a reported speech phrase. It is less common to use “said to me that,” but that’s also an option.
  2. The phrase will usually be in past tense, following the word “said” or “told.” It can also be in past perfect tense to emphasize that the action happened before the report of it. It is not usually in present tense even if the quote is present tense. In casual talking, however, it can be in present tense, too.

Examples and “translations” into quotes:

“Lars and Lena recounted how (that) they had accompanied the children to the hospital…” (p. 81)

= quote: “We accompanied the children to the hospital.”

“…and Sean said that crowds made him nervous…” (p. 81)

= quote: “Crowds make me nervous.”

“…she told me again and again how much her dad loved her and did everything for her…” (p. 84)

= quote: “My dad loved (or loves) me, and he did everything for me!”

“…once she mentioned to Marie that someone had threatened her.” (p. 86)

= quote: “Someone threatened her.”

Answers to Part 1

  1. She was energetic and always on the go. She was a good friend.
  2. Lars and Lena Kivi, Marie, Anna, and some social workers attended. The children did not attend.
  3. He went to live with the Kivi family. They became his foster parents.
  4. She filled out a form to get her Swedish citizenship back.

Chapter 7: Tag, You’re Mom

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. Which relative did Anna feel close to before she left Sweden as a child?
  2. Which musical instrument did James teach Fionn when the whole family lived together in America?
  3. Aside from Anna, which three adults helped the grieving siblings?
  4. What happened while Anna, Michael and the “little kids” were out for the day?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. Which part of this chapter struck you the most? Why?
  2. In the first scene section, Anna talks about the importance of her grandmother. What do you think Anna learned from her grandmother?
  3. 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?
  4. 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)

Language Focus:

More expressions!

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.

p. 66

holding Mom-court

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

  1. Her Farmor (paternal grandmother)
  2. James taught him to play the trombone.
  3. 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.
  4. Fionna and Sen got into a physical fight.

Chapter 6: Beginner’s Mind

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. What game did Anna and her brother play as children?
  2. While walking in the woods in Stockholm, what did Anna see which surprised her?
  3. What did Anna enjoy eating as she sat outside the supermarket?
  4. Which son reminded Anna of Kevin, and why?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. This chapter is about experiencing a childhood place in a new way. What are some examples? Have you ever experienced anything similar?
  2. In the scene where Anna is washing the dishes, her stepson’s voice acts as a trigger for her grief. Is she grieving Kevin’s death, or is it something else?
  3. In the last scene, Anna finds out the children are having money problems, and she says, “This is not what I had expected at all. Not in Sweden.” Are you surprised at what Anna experiences in this chapter? Do her experiences reflect your understanding of Swedish culture and society?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • The game Anna and her brother play, Cowboys and Indians, reflects an old-fashioned view of race relations in America. How do you think views of race and identity have changed (in the United States or your home country) in the last 50 years?
  • Anna’s reaction to seeing a girlfriend in Fionn’s room is to retreat and “talk to God,” even though it’s clear she doesn’t really believe it’s God talking back. Can you relate to this type of inner dialogue? How do inner conversations work for you in stressful situations?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

getting a head start on summer.” = doing it early or starting enthusiastically (p. 50)

ushered us out = gently guided us in a direction, like an usher (p. 51)

This Land is Your Land… etc. = These are famous American songs (p. 51)

“an ingrained practice” = a strong habit; something done so often that it’s automatic (p. 55)

“greedily chowed down” = ate (p. 57)

glued to screens” = not moving from; attached to (p. 61)

Grammar Focus:

Special Markers in Storytelling

When you write a story, there are some markers which can help your reader understand.

  1. Quotation Marks

These show you the dialog. Generally, when there is a new line, there’s a new speaker. (When writing, remember to put the ending period before the quotation mark.)

“So how do you all live?”

“My student loans.”

“But that’s only $350 a month.”


NOTE: When writing dialog, you do not have to worry about writing complete sentences. You should write exactly what the person said.

2. Italics

Use italics to mark words which are in a foreign language — in this case, not English:

… “He’s helping with the dödsbo…” (p. 63)

Also use italics for titles of books, movies, or songs:

It was This Land is Your Land and America the Beautiful and Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie. (p. 51)

NOTE: Remember, with titles, to also capitalize them correctly.

Answers to Part 1

  1. They played Cowboys and Indians.
  2. She saw three women dressed in black veils and a six-story apartment building behind some trees.
  3. a dairy free, lactose free ice cream cone
  4. Sean. His voice and way of speaking were very similar to his father’s.

Chapter 5: A “Fecking” Mess


Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. How many people lived in Kevin’s apartment when Anna arrived?
  2. What was Sinead doing when Anna tried to talk to her?
  3. What did Cara try to make Sinead and Rory do?
  4. Did Sinead and Rory go to day camp, as planned?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. What part of this chapter do you think is most significant? Why?
  2. Clearly, some challenges are being introduced. Based on this chapter, what do you think some of Anna’s challenges will be, moving forward?
  3. The title contains the word “fecking,” which is a word used in Ireland. Have you heard it before? If so (or based on the chapter), do you agree with Anna or Kevin about using it around children?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • There is a lot of talk these days about “screen addiction” in children and teens. What are your experiences with this issue and/or your opinions?
  • Anna thinks her reaction to her 18-year-old stepdaughter’s boyfriend sleeping over is based on being religious and/or American. Do you agree with that assessment? Where do you stand on this issue?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“…his father’s imposing oak desk.” = his father’s big and sturdy desk made of wood (page 40)

All total, nine people lived…” = All together; If we add them up (page 41)

“the massive wooden table” = big and heavy (page 41)

“flip like a pancake” = change to the opposite; change completely (page 41)

“lounging on the couch” = lying down in a very relaxed or lazy way (page 45)

Grammar Focus:

Past Tense Verbs

This story is written in past tense, so let’s review the two basic categories of verbs in Simple Present Tense.

Examples of regular verbs:

(Add -ed, paying attention to spelling rules.)

walk = walked

play = played

try = tried

stop= stopped

Examples of irregular Verbs:

go = went

say = said

read = read

write = wrote


Write the base form of each irregular past tense verb. They are all from this chapter. The answers are below.


Answers to Part 1

  1. Nine. Six siblings (including Michael but minus Cara), one boyfriend, one girlfriend, and Anna.
  2. She was lying on a sofa, looking at her iPad, with earbuds in her ears.
  3. She tried to make them get ready for day camp.
  4. No.

Answers to Grammar Focus

fly, find, lie, slide, take, mean, burst, hang

Chapter 4: Back to the Present

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. What was Anna’s family background?
  2. While growing up, how did Anna learn about Swedish culture?
  3. Why was Anna and Michael’s visit to the Swedish Consulate ironic?
  4. Which object in the bedroom reminded Anna of Kevin?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. How did Anna’s life change when she moved to America? Do you think this is typical of a child immigrant’s experience?
  2. How can learning a culture through one’s parents and learning it through direct experience lead to different types of understanding? What are some cultural things one must learn directly?
  3. When Anna holds Kevin’s t-shirt, she says, “This is what contentment smelled like. This is what giddy excitement over finding love again after thirteen years felt like.” Discuss the smells, sounds, and physical objects which remind you of your past.
  4. While Anna holds the t-shirt and remembers the past, how do you think she feels? Why?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • When a person immigrates to another country, how do you think it influences the person’s identity? Does the age of immigration play a large factor? Are there other factors?
  • Sometimes, we may choose to enter situations which cause us anxiety. In your opinion, what are valid reasons for such a choice? Should anxiety be avoided at all costs?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“high school sweethearts” = a couple who fell in love while in high school (p. 28)

“at lightning speed” = extremely quickly (p.29)

“rough-and-tumble” =  a situation without rules or regulations; a disorderly fight (p. 31)

“The devil would be in the details.” = The very difficult part would be the details. (p.31)

“decked out in” = dressed in an outfit, especially a nice one; decorated

“giddy anticipation” = feeling very excited about the future

Grammar Focus:

Strong Verbs in Storytelling

When writing a story, using “strong verbs” can make the story more interesting. Strong verbs are words which contain a lot of meaning. For example, “ran,” “strolled,” or “walked” can be stronger than “went” or “did.” (Some common verbs like BE, GO and DO are usually  **not** considered strong verbs.) For language learners, this can cause some problems in reading comprehension because strong verbs are more exact. Here are some examples of “strong verbs” from the first page of this chapter, with more general words after them.

As the hours in the plane dragged on (became long), I shifted (moved) in my seat, unsettled. Watching movies was out of the question because I couldn’t concentrate. Instead, I buried (put) my head in the pillow and pretended to sleep (acted like I was sleeping) so no one would talk to me. Images of past plane rides flashed (came in pictures) before me…

Answers to Part 1

  1. Both her parents came from long-line Swedish families. Her mother’s grandparents had come up from Denmark in the 1890s.
  2. Her parents taught her.
  3. Michael qualified for Swedish citizenship even though he had never been to Sweden and didn’t speak Swedish. Anna didn’t qualify for Swedish citizenship although she was born there and could speak Swedish.
  4. his soft, brown t-shirt