When Morris meets Betty, love is unavoidable. In short prose
passages, we follow the course of their passionate first love. A
confident debut written in a surprising form, which gives the story intelligence and depth.
Morris feels like Betty can see everything he's thinking. Betty
believes Morris understands her like no one ever before. She tells him everything, even about the dried-up worm that she saw on the sidewalk on the way to school. But sometimes the darkness closes in on Morris. His father is manic-depressive and his mother is always talking about dreams and poetry and her new boyfriend. Morris begins to wonder if crazy people are drawn to each other. Betty points out that he is like his father. As their love grows, it almost consumes them. Soon it's as if they are always trying to escape
themselves until they ask, "How do you know when it's over?"
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Gunnar Ardelius has worked as a waiter, mover, night porter, and taxi driver and has lived in Paris, Berlin, and Lysekil, Lund, and Malmö, Sweden. He has studied literature and printed media. I Need You More Than I Love You and I Love You to Bits is his first novel. He lives in Stockholm.
Tara Chace holds a doctorate in Scandinavian literature and translates works that are written in Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. Her recent literary translations include Markus and Diana by Klaus Hagerup, Heart's Delight by Per Nilsson, and You & You & You, also by Per Nilsson, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
Grade 9 Up—Ardelius follows the frenetic course of an all-consuming teen love affair from first chance sexual encounter to inevitable atrophy as everyday insecurities encroach. Told through short conversational passages, the narrative is comprised largely of dialogue between Morris and Betty and glimpses into the couple's quiet, intimate moments. Such scenes are interspersed with their inner thoughts (mainly his) and snapshots of Morris's mother and father, who are respectively flighty and manic-depressive. It is these parental weaknesses that feed Morris's own fears about the attraction between two people and indirectly spur the downward trajectory of the relationship. Ardelius's prose, translated from Swedish, poetically bottles the universal delirium and unsustainable pace of first love. American readers expecting a typical teen love story, however, will not find it here. Certain aspects of the story, such as the nonchalance of Betty's mom when her daughter's boyfriend walks downstairs in the morning for breakfast, have a distinctly European ring. This sophistication, both in style and content, may alienate some, but will speak volumes to more worldly teenagers.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT
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