Jeff Scott's Reviews > It's Fine by Me

It's Fine by Me by Per Petterson
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's review
Oct 22, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, norwegian-fiction
Read from October 19 to 22, 2012

Many could compare It's Fine by Me with Catcher in the Rye, both sullen teenagers reacting to the lies of the world around him. Auden isn't like Holden though. He feels his pain and cuts himself off from everyone. Instead of reacting in a very angry and outward way, he turns inward and tries to give the appearance that he doesn't care. He does indeed care deeply. He is hurt and scared of the return of his alcoholic father. He is haunted by the death of his little brother. He doesn't show it though. When someone lets him down his only reply is, "It's Fine by Me."

I think what makes the story so powerful is the raw emotion. It isn't an outward expression but an internal burning, frustration, and helplessness. That feeling is what I liked about Out Stealing Horses. It's going over the past to try to find a way to heal from it. It never truly heals, but there is a hope of one day understanding it all. That's the journey in the story.

I've been searching for this story since Out Stealing Horses. I've read To Siberia and while that was good, it didn't have the same power. I Curse the River of time was awful. It didn't have as strong a family connection. It was more helpless flailing. It's Fine by Me is of the same caliber as Horses. It's just a fantastic story of the confusing teenage years coupled with a family coming apart and alcoholism.

Favorite parts

"I have never seen any ghosts. The ones that haunt me do not glide around at night wearing lace frocks, howling with grief." P. 67

If you are an alcoholic you're out of control. If you have no control you are finished. Then you spend the rest of your life walking through the valley of the shadow of death. You are the problem no one wants to solve. They give you a wide berth in the street, scurry behind the canned food when you're in the shop to buy beer. The woman at the cash desk is in a hurry. And then you die and no one gives a shit. P. 69

I'm supposed to be the tough guy in the class, the strongest, the best athlete and generally dour as shit. It just turns out that way. I don't know why. I stare back, they think I am strange, it's fine by me, they're like mist, I hardly see them. P.85
Quote 69, 85

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