Want to join in reading a memoir in September? Make sure you check out the info at the end of the post!
I have the post-book blahs—or Britt-Marie might call it “Book Club Flu”—as we finish discussing Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Bachman. Oh Britt-Marie, once again you have lined up with the theme of the week: Welcome to Team.
No surprise, Kent is a very bad “teammate.” He did seem to be trying in this last section of the book, and maybe he did the best he could, but his efforts were disappointing. As Britt-Marie said, if he would have only asked about her injured hand she “might have believed that [he] actually cared.” Watching Kent and Sven jockey for Britt-Marie in this section I felt conflicted, but I also felt happy for Britt-Marie to get a taste of her worth.
Kent and his “bad teammate” behavior aside, this section seemed to capture the beauty of overseas teams. I never got to pick my team, I was always assigned or teamed with other people who worked in the same office I did. This means I became friends with some unlikely people. One of my teammates, who became a good friend, was a good couple of decades younger than me. I remember when it hit me that I was basically her mother’s age?! What?! But when the options to “friends” were limited, it turns out that basically anyone is friend material.
Overseas teams are often brought closer though unusual circumstances, be it housing related, a medical situation, or traveling that forces you to let others see behind the tidy surface. Britt-Marie grew to care for Sami, Omar, and Vega all the more after she and Sami smoke and drink whiskey and he tells Britt-Marie about his dad being run off and his mom dying on a work trip. Sami was wise beyond his years when he said, “Vega’s afraid, even though she mainly seems angry. Omar is angry, though you’d probably think he was afraid.” If only I could remember that is true of most people I interact with too. Thank you, Sami, to remind us to look beyond the obvious when it comes to relationships.
The difference between good and great teams? Just ask Vega (a girl), Toad (too young), and Max (his dad is a jerk). They could not imagine life without soccer and without playing together, even if the rest of the world told them to move on. Did you yell a little bit when Ben scored? I know I did. “All passion is childish. It’s banal and naïve. All other emotions belong to the earth, but passion inhabits the universe.”
The narrator keeps asking “how should you live your life?”
At first, Britt-Marie could not understand why Vega blocked a shot with her face and Mas risked his leg on a play. First thoughtfully, then hesitantly Vega asked Britt-Marie, “Have you never loved anything like that?”
“Ha. No. I . . . ha. I don’t know. I actually don’t know.”
But we find out she did know. When she whispered “Paris” and then went on to explain how she needed to be the sensible one when her sister was reckless and then the sensible one because Kent was reckless, my heart melted a bit for her. I love that Vega is blowing on the embers of Britt-Marie’s hopes. This section reminded me that passion is the secret sauce of teams, not outcomes.
When Britt-Marie stood on Sami’s grave and said, “I want you to know, darling boy, I’ll never regret coming to Borg.” I wept. Because this too is what team can do.
It can make the hard, gut wrenching parts worth it. There are parts of life that I can also honestly say that even though it cost me and was hard, I do not regret it.
What did you think of the ending? Will Britt-Marie return to Borg? Will she and Kent get back together? At some point, do you think she will divorce and start dating Sven? I was happy that she did not race into a relationship with Sven too quickly. Ah, I’m a little sad to come to the end of Ove, Grandmother, and now Britt-Marie.
In the end, I think we all want to be like Britt-Marie and know that we “were here.” That our lives matter, that we are noticed, and that we are loved. Thank you for letting me host this month and chiming in the discussion. It matters and I am grateful.
Until our next book,
We hope you’ll join us for our September Book Club book! We will be reading a memoir called Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. We also wanted to give a little warning that this book contains profanity. If that’s an issue for you, there’s also a young adult version that you can read as an alternative and still join in on our discussion!
Here’s the reading schedule for the book:
September 3: Chapters 1-5
September 10: Chapters 6-11
September 17: Chapters 12-16
September 24: Chapters 17-18