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What My Body Remembers

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  499 ratings  ·  84 reviews
From New York Times bestselling author Agnete Friis comes the chilling story of a young mother who will do whatever it takes to protect her son.

Ella Nygaard, 27, has been a ward of the state since she was seven years old, the night her father murdered her mother. She doesn't remember anything about that night or her childhood before it but her body remembers. The PTSD-ind
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Soho Crime
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3.72  · 
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 ·  499 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Diane S ☔
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Broken lives, broken people. Ella has been under state care since the age of seven when her father killed her mother. She was there, but remembers nothing of that time, and little from the time before. Her body though, does remember and she has severe PTSD, panic attacks that are crippling. She has a son now, a son she loves but is unable to handle a job, so, she receives money from the social services available. She drinks too much and is under the supervision of a social worker. When a severe ...more
Lynsey Summers
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The opening to this book was a little different to what I was expecting.  Usually you are given an explosive event or shocking revelation, but this opens with a very simple and frank conversation between two neighbours.  Two females.  It is muted, matter of fact and so completely puts you straight into the tone of the book it is very clever.

So, what is the tone of the book?  Well, to be honest, it is pretty bleak.  Written in first person narrative by protagonist Ella, the reader quickly ascerta
Crime by the Book
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Find my full review on Crime by the Book:

This is book totally defied my expectations for it - but I wholly enjoyed it. It's nothing like your standard Nordic Noir: it doesn't have a police investigation at the center of it, and it's hardly a violent story. Instead, it's a slow-burning, atmospheric exploration of a young woman's past - and how she is still defined by the traumas from her youth. It's tense, emotional, and a truly unique little book!
An interesting novel. Not a scandinavian noir, this book solves a crime of long ago and showes the consequences of it on one of the victims. I knew about halfway who did it, but the why and how kept me interested till the end. The consequences this crime had on one of the victims, made this novel also gripping and sad. Above all it raised my awareness that poverty and a sad life can happen to all of us if we are dealt a wrong card.
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
The night her father kills her mother, Ella is only seven years old and becomes part of the system. She acts out and becomes unexpectedly pregnant at a young age. Her post traumatic amnesia leads to severe panic attacks, leaving her in question with the state regarding her ability to take care of not only herself, but her son as well. When it becomes apparent that the state wants to take her son away, she takes matters into her own hands and runs away with him. Heading back to her grandmother's ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: netgalley, gave-up-on
I so wanted to love this book, The Boy in the Suitcase is a book I loved to bits, I liked it because it was a different kind of mystery, one where I was guessing all the time, where I really liked the characters and where I really connected with the story. With this one though, I've just become really tired of it, I feel like I'm reading a puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces, but with so many missing pieces I can't even get the edges done, let alone fill in the middle bits. At times the pace i ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ella Nygaard lives with her son, but cannot work because of her medical condition. She is estranged from her family as her father went to prison for the killing of her mother. Following a minor altercation, Ella grabs her son from a relation and heads out of the city to her grandmother's abandoned home on the coast, where they try to establish new lives. The book goes back and forth between the present and the events leading up to her mother's death until we understand what actually occurred. I ...more
Shirley Cagle
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like that this book is different, in that the protagonist is not particularly likeable or easy to understand. The bleak situation and setting mirror her mental state and her inner turmoil is completely understandable once you know the circumstances of her childhood. The story has some interesting plot twists and tension builds more quickly in the second half of the novel. Very well-crafted!
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was quite shocked by the ending. I did not see it coming at all.
Bonnie Brody
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ella Nygaard is 27 years old and has spent virtually all of her life as a ward of the state. When she was 7 years old, her father murdered her mother. Though Ella doesn't remember that night or anything about her life preceding the murder, she now suffers horrendous panic attacks that can last for days, has dissociative disorder and a horrible case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The most meaningful aspect of Ella's life is her son Alex, about ten years old.

Ella was not always a compliant fos
maria helena
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-denmark
I was not quite sure what to expect from this novel about single mother Ella who struggles with keeping the custody of her young son Alex, while also dealing with traumatic events from her own childhood.

The main character Ella is extremely complex. She is fascinating while also annoying and frustrating, but most importantly a very real and honest character. The story slowly unfolds, revealing more and more details about Ella's childhood and the night her father killed her mother. I love the ble
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, 2019
Why do I never learn... audiobooks with Danish or Scandi names in general tend to have pretty butchered name pronunciations. And it gets on my nerves, in every single book where it happens. Which fortunately isn’t all of them, but still. Nygaard was butchered to sound “Nugar” (as it would be written back in e.g. Swedish based on the sound). Nugar?! Äna (or it’d be Æna since Danish ä), Helgi...
The story line was interesting and fresh, making you want to find out what happened and how it all binds
Ru Chica
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-books
Let's hear it for the unlikable female protagonist! Ella's mother was killed by her father when she was a child, and that unremembered event has colored her life for that point forward. She drinks too much, smokes too much, fucks too much, she is too much. She's a mother on welfare struggling to take care of her son, Alex, and they collect cans to help make ends meet. Alex spends time with a foster family with "good intentions" and the foster mother reports Ella to social services trying to gain ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Predictable, but okay read. An unlikeable young woman with an eleven year old son who delves into her mother's murder while drinking herself through PTSD seizure type attacks. Not great, but I finished it and had a small surprise in the solving of the murder.
Marilyn Shea
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story was disorienting at first, with its switches from present to past and back. The character, Ella, was a little girl at times and at others, a very disturbed young adult. I worried about her being alone and raising a son while dealing with the trauma of her childhood. I despaired of the social services workers understanding her trauma and perhaps offering her some help. The very few friends she had were all very damaged people, also. I found the essential mystery engaging and complex. We ...more
Ella Nygaard has suffered from PSTD since childhood when her mother was murdered and her father sent off to prison. At 27, she has a son, Alex, age 11, but they live on government handouts because Ella suffers from sudden and debilitating panic attacks which leave her unable to function for hours at a time. During the latest attack, Ella is hospitalized and upon her release she learns that Alex has been sent to live with foster parents. Desperate, Ella kidnaps Alex and runs to her Grandmother’s ...more
Thanks to SoHo Crime publishers and Edelweiss-AboveTheTreeline for What My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis. I received an ARC Kindle e-book edition at no cost.

There are people in our world who have never experienced nightmares that come to life.

Post-Traumatic Stress has become a buzz-phrase in society, that makes it seem a fad rather than a disease or ailment. Only recently people outside of War experience were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disease.

Unlike a broken bone or paralysis, PT
Anne Slater
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As usual, I will tell you nothing about the plot, per se. You can read that elsewhere.

I don't usually choose books that I am pretty sure are going to be Scandinavian Sour: dark, psychologically heavy, dreary, and sad. And this book is all of those, but.... BUT... it is so engagingly written. The switching back and forth between mother- and daughter-centered narrations (including one or two others along the way) keep the reader really involved, focused on remembering the previous person's reactio
William Koon
Oct 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
What My Body Remembers stands out by having one of the most unattractive main characters I have ever come across in fiction. Of course, there was Donleavy’s Sebastian Dangerfield, but he was down right loveable compared to Ella the heroine of this Danish pot boiler. She is foul mouthed, sexually promiscuous, a junkie, an alcoholic, a free loader on society and just plain nasty. Some of the more memorable scenes are of her throwing up. Scenes.

The plot revolves around the murder of her mother tol
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I hesitate to read Nordic Noir. I think of books like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which my son brought with him to read at the cabin one summer. Since there's no electricity and no internet or cell phone service, a good book is pretty necessary, although we spend day time hiking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing...Night times involve games...but also reading (aladdin lamps). I remember Jody laughing and reading me a passage from that book. He was laughing because it was such awful writing. He ke ...more
Marianne K
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it
"It was so hard not to follow the impulse she had planted in him. The thought of the two of them together, in a white house with big windows and a view over the never-ending meadows. Their double bed was broad and the bedcovers were just as blindingly white as the walls and the furniture, and between them lay a small plump baby. Their child. A son. He had always wanted a son. The image inspired a vision of the future that transformed into a whole new life in which he was twenty years younger--an ...more
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a book I noticed on a couple of blogs I follow, so I picked it up from the library. The story is centered on Ella Nygaard, a young woman with severe PTSD and no memory of early childhood as result of her mother’s murder. She has spent her youth in foster care and now has a young son herself. As a result of her symptoms, she is being judged as unable to care for her child and he is being placed in foster care now (repeating the cycle). Ella panics and takes her son back to the place she ...more
Dec 17, 2017 rated it liked it
What My Body Remembers was a twist through PTSD with a supremely unlikeable main character. The thing is, yes, Ella is unlikeable as a young angry woman with issues that has been through the system and is living off the system still , but that seemed realistic. I always wonder about stories where the character has been traumatized in early childhood and through foster care and without much support in the community and yet seems perfectly well adjusted. This seemed like a more likely outcome. Bar ...more
Anne S
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
This book is about a 27 year old single mother, Emma, who is caring for her 10 year old son, Alex. She has been in foster care since she was a child when her father went to prison for killing her mother. Even though she had a grandmother, she has been in foster care instead of with her grandmother. On top of this, she has ptsd and other mental issues. She is living off of welfare who appear to want to take her child away from her because of her alcoholism but instead she runs away with her child ...more
Lindy Hoppr
I loved this book. The writing was tight, and the translation was incredible. It read as a book written in english.
I've been reading books with no prior information lately, and I was not at all disappointed in this one. It takes place mostly on a beach in Denmark, and Ella is such a great character. She is damaged and angry, but not cloying at all, and manages to acknowledge her faults without actually doing so. I like in particular the use of multiple POV in order to advance the story and deep
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ella is damaged, unlikable, gritty. I often rolled my eyes as she fended off kindness and offers of help from well meaning others. the only softness in her was her love for her son and she was dragging him from place to place like a feral cat. Her episodes kept her from working for any length of time and her disposition caused a multitude of problems. Physically she was an episode away from a mental ward, a drink away from the drunk tank and hopeless and unwilling to be helped. Like a dog in a s ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Agnete Friis and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book as it was translated from Danish to English and I have always felt translation leaves a book disjointed, not the case for me here... The first few pages actually gripped me with both wit and humour that kept me to the end even though this book had a fair degree of sadness and tragedy to it. I enjoyed the characters and the way the story was written in two voices, joinin
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: danish
I had some difficulty with this book early on but slowly got engaged, then very engaged. This is not our "usual" Nordic mystery or tale but rather a exploration of a woman's life - with her son, her friends, her social worker and all the parts of the community that are obligated to help a troubled soul - but often hinder rather than help. Ella Nygaard has been traumatized by her mother's murder, by her father, she believes but has no reliable memories of the murder, or of much of her early life. ...more
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book better than the Nina Borg series. It's got a strong start, though I thought the muffle was a little slow and got bogged down in a little too much detail. The characters here are believable, and likeable. There is some social commentary regarding whether people can change that worked well within the story.

The only thing that bugged me is that I felt one character's motives were obviously suspect from the start, and it seemed a little strange that Ella would let herself get so cl
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This wasn't a traditional mystery - there wasn't any 'shocking final twist', and the protagonist is unlikable and hard to sympathize with. I don't say this as a criticism. There was a lot of really good stuff here, about living in poverty, living with addiction, addiction as self-medication, religion as a tool of abuse, and messed-up family dynamics. Ella isn't likable, but all of her negative traits are completely understandable. Really sad, but really well done.
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“She looked like someone who was always alone, even in the company of others. You always recognize your own affliction in other people.” 0 likes
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