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Olimme kerran

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  916 ratings  ·  188 reviews
Vallankumouksen kauhuista selvinnyt iranilaisnainen on uuden taistelun edessä: nyt syöpää vastaan. Kansainvälinen kirjallinen sensaatio on vuoden koskettavin lukuelämys!

Nahid saapui Ruotsiin 30 vuotta sitten puolisonsa ja pienen tyttärensä kanssa. He pakenivat Iranin islamilaista vallankumousta.

Vuosia myöhemmin Nahidin puoliso on kuollut, ja lääkärit antavat hänelle itsell
Hardcover, Otavan kirjasto, 224 pages
Published March 2018 by Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava (first published August 31st 2017)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  916 ratings  ·  188 reviews

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Larry H
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars for this one. Thanks to the amazing Elyse for this one!

Wow. This book packs one hell of a punch.

"There is no future. Think if people knew. You put so much time into planning for the future and then it doesn't even exist. Who would have thought."

Nahid is diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live, although the doctors don't know how long it will take for the disease to work its course. As a nurse, she understands what it's like for a patient to receive this type of diagnosis, bu
Elyse Walters
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: 'GREAT Kindle deal today....this is a $2.99 download special. Its an impossible book to put down!!! Terrific novel that grabs you and won't let go!!!!

just small tidbits .....hoping to light a fire of your curiosity . JUST READ THIS BOOK!!!

“OH MY GOD”....or OMG....
This popular slang expression FITS THIS NOVEL....
YOU will be CHAINED TO IT!!!

Fast to read - Nothing fluffy - kinda shocking - GUT GUT GUT wrenching!
OMG!!! Ripped my guts
Diane S ☔
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Idealism, unbearable loss and survival. I am blown away by the powerful stories I have read lately in these shorter paged books. A story of a life ending too soon, Nahid, once had hopes for the future. In Iran, part of an idealistic group that believed in a better and fairer future for their country, suffers a horrible loss that will affect the rest of her life, and thst of her daughter.. Fleeing their country, they become refugees settling in Sweden.

The scars we carry with us, the pain that nev
Well that tore my heart out. Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde, has crafted a beautiful debut novel in What We Owe, about an Iranian nurse Nahid, who lives in Sweden and has learned that she has terminal cancer. One of the things I love about the book, is that Nahid isn't a perfect sympathetic character. She has made bad decisions, she has regrets, she is gruff and can be unkind and at times is downright mean to her only child her daughter Aram. And yet the reader is drawn to her and her compelling story ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tooter by: Elyse
Thank you Elyse for your recommendation of this beautiful book!
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, favorites
I am at a loss for words. I almost feel like there's no point in me reading anything anymore. I guess this is it, my reading life has peaked.

What We Owe is one of those books that will define my reading life. Written in explosive sentences and gut-punching prose, it tells the story of Nahid, who fled the Iranian revolution to Sweden in the late 1970s. Now, at almost 50, she is dying of cancer and is pondering whether all the sacrifices, all the running and escaping death was worth it, now that
Bonnie Brody
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nahid has led a life of terrible suffering, loss,regret, and rage. Now, at 55 years of age, the doctors tell her she has stage 4 incurable cancer with not much longer to live. As she deals with this news, she looks back at her life and gradually reveals those incidents in her life that have so filled her with anger and pain.

Once a young woman in Iran, she is filled with hope for her destiny. She is an activist and marches against the new regime. She wants equality for all and her belief is in Ma
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I’ve always carried my death with me,” Nahid reflects in the opening sentence of this book.

And indeed, she has. From her childhood in Iran when she and her boyfriend—later husband—were budding revolutionaries to later on as refugees to Sweden, Nahid has experienced more than her share of loss. Now in mid-life and diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer, Nahid looks back unsparingly at the times that have formed the person she is in gut-wrenching detail.

Through her memories, a real person emerg
This is a very soulful sorrowful book. It left me with the feeling of enormous sadness.
It is about living and dying and how short life is and how some of us caught in the darkest events of history have so little preparation for what’s to come and no control over the events in our life. There is the element of being born into war, revolution, bloodshed and no ability to withstand it. Nahid saves herself but at the same time looses all sense of meaning and joy of life.
It felt like life happened t
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Others have said it better for this book. Especially within the point made upon so much of a human life's core being exposed in these short, succinct, sharp, searing 200 pagers. More so than the 400 or 500 page lyrical tomes. For sure. For my reading that is true.

This one is like having a 3rd degree burn over 50% of your body being 10 days wrapped and someone ripping the entire bindings off in one tearing pull of a scream echo.

I would not suggest the thin skinned or highly sensitive to introspe
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
File this under women protagonists so achingly honest about their thoughts and feelings that it feels like you’re trespassing. Also file this under books that take the breath from your chest with it’s pain and insight and leaves behind ghosts of hope.

“I paint my lips. They smear immediately. I sweep my hand over my chin, try to wipe it away, but it’s set in the skin. I’ll leave it. Better to be too much than to become invisible. Ceasing to exist completely.”

“I realize I’m more afraid of dying th
Liz Butler
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 Heartbreaking, gut wrenching stars for this one. I'm not crying... you're crying!

I would definitely not recommend reading this one on a plane, like I did. That is, unless you don't mind doing the ugly cry and sniffling like a weirdo in front of complete strangers.

Nahid is no stranger to loss. She's a refugee who fled Iran with her husband and daughter, and a past filled with violence and pain and rage. She just found out she has stage IV cancer, and 6 months to live.

This book destroyed me
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Review: What We Owe
Author: Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde and Translated by Elizabeth Jane Clark Wessel
Publisher: Mariner Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Review Date: November 3, 2018

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

From the Amazon blurb: “A gut punch of a novel that asks us to consider: what do we pass on to our children? What do we owe those we love? And without roots, can you ever truly be free?”

This is the story of Nahid, 5
3.5 stars. I don’t quite know how I feel about this book. It is beautifully written, the sentences are raw and gorgeous and hit deep. The story flows forward, with flashbacks and all. But the story itself... The flashback parts are all too familiar and you can guess what happens. The current day is sad but also frustrating, because the protagonist is awfully selfish and I could not relate to what she was going through and thinking. I do like that an author this young managed to write the voice o ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intricately woven story that mainlines directly to your heart. A tale of energized youth, rebellion, exile, love and loss. So much packed into this tiny book with a soul that encompasses death and birth. If you have sat with a loved one, or maybe more than one, you will feel Bonde’s words from the tip of your skull to the ends of your toes. I’m glad everyone is out of the house today so I have the space to grieve till my tears run dry.
This book is honest and raw and sometimes hard to handle.

The reader only knows Nahid, the narrator, from the moment she is told she has a terminal illness, and likely only has 6 months to live. Nahid's reaction to this news isn't the graceful type of acceptance that is sometimes seen in movies or on TV, but rather anger. At the world, at her daughter for not being sad enough, at her friends for being around enough, at whatever is around her. And you know what? In a way, that was refreshing. But
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To run the risk of using a tired cliché, this book is hauntingly beautiful. Nahid is an Iranian refugee living in Sweden, and she’s just been diagnosed with an advanced stage cancer. In this book, she looks back on her life as a wife and mother as she lives through her diagnosis and her daughter announces her own pregnancy.

Nahid narrates her own story. So while she is an unreliable narrator, she’s frank about her flaws in a non-judgemental way. She doesn’t care for being a mother, but she fierc
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was beautiful, but wow was it so depressing. It was filled to the brim with poetic meaning and Bonde's craft is remarkable. She's just merciless. The depiction of the dying mother (the central character in the book) is complicated--I've never read a character like her. There is one scene in there where the mother decides to spread her misery to her child and to deprive her of childhood fun. It was a horrible scene and I didn't forgive her. Mainly because I don't think even in death she ...more
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"What I was born with, born into, was the ability to survive. I grew up to survive. That's not the same as living."
Nahid, now 50 and living in Sweden, has been given 6 months to live. Told from her point of view we see her anger, resistance and denial. Her reaction to her daughters pregnancy. We flash back to her difficult childhood in Iran and her naivete as a college age revolutionary that leads to tragedy, betrayal, and eventual flight to Sweden. The first person perspective gives you no dist
Kat Saltz
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gut-wrenching story of perseverance, hope, motherhood, and politics. I felt a personal connection to Nahid, an Iranian refugee living in Sweden. Her tales were real and raw. Nahid was a woman with imperfections and a desire to live, despite the struggles she has faced
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, book-club, 2019
This book was intense. Nahid was a difficult protagonist--entirely relatable but sometimes thoroughly unlikable. The author did an excellent job of depicting Nahid's history and sacrifices--thus making her early death all the more unfair and tragic.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very moving emotional story.
Susan Daugherty
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars rounded up.
Ignatius Vonnegut
First of all, a very heartfelt story, tragic and sad. A good portrait of a life and it's most important moments. A journey through cancer with death and love as the main topic. It's even stylistically well written, with shifts of perspective and timetravells, that feels adequate.

And two stars is not "bad", it's ok. For me the book didn't give the e experience I look for when I read. Of course I don't know this particular story, but all the way I felt like I still knew the sentences, the feeling
Angie Woodin
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this on a flight and had to stop short of the end because I hate crying in public.
Books by Kimi
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
See full review here:

This book is hard to put down while reading it and hard to forget once you're done. I might be biased as my father is Iranian and I have grown up listening to his stories of the revolution as well as Googoosh's music throughout my childhood. However, this is a very sad story about the consequences of young love, hope, sickness and looking at your life and not being satisfied with what you have accomplished. Although it's sad, it's al
Mary Lins
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
Nahid has just been told she has stage 4 cancer and 6 months to live; she is the first-person, stream-of-consciousness, narrator of “What We Owe”, by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde. This is a story about mothers and daughters and of refugees and their children. (Bonde herself immigrated to Sweden from Iran as a child, so she knows of what she writes.)

Nahid’s mother was married at 9 and had her first of seven daughters at 12. Nahid’s daughter, Aram, has been the witness of her parent’s abusive marriage
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
"𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐'𝘮 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘥, 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘵. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺'𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘸𝘰 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘯'𝘵 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥."

I normally don't write reviews, but this delightful gem of a book has very few on the English translation (originally published in Swedish language). As a new book with few ratings/reviews on GR, I want to sing its graces. What We Owe deftly weaves between the past and present in a memoir style. The protagonist Nahid reflects on her life in revolutionary Tehran in the 1970s and then fleeing
Miguel Pais
Everyone has one of those friends that every now and then you meet for coffee just to quickly realize what is the reason you don't meet more often: he or she just can't stop talking about him/herself!

After a while, you hope for a breather to introduce a topic of your own, or to explore some discussion unrelated to any of you, but quickly the whole discourse just comes back to: me, me, me.

This book unfortunately felt a lot like that. I'm not gonna argue that knowing about a terrible situation b
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Nordic Book Club: February 2019 - What We Owe 1 10 Feb 27, 2019 12:58PM  
Play Book Tag: What we Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde - 5 stars 6 13 Oct 21, 2018 09:00PM  

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Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde was born in Iran in 1983 and fled with her parents to Sweden as a young child. She graduated from the Stockholm School of Economics and was named one of 50 Goldman Sachs Global Leaders. She is the founder and director of Inkludera Invest, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting marginalization in society by backing social entrepreneurs who have developed pragmatic ...more
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