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When We Were Vikings

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  554 ratings  ·  243 reviews
A heart-swelling debut for fans of The Silver Linings Playbook and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.

For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:

1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”
2.
...more
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2020 by Scout Press
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  • When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
    When We Were Vikings
    by
    Release date: Jan 28, 2020
    *WITH SIGNED BOOKPLATES BY THE AUTHOR!*

    A heart-swelling debut for fans of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE
    ...more

    Format: Print book

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 100 copies available, 5670 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Jan 13 - Jan 27, 2020

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Popular Answered Questions
    Andrew MacDonald Hi, and thanks a bunch for your patron request! It's Adult, but I know a lot of readers, librarians, and high school teachers have noted that it can…moreHi, and thanks a bunch for your patron request! It's Adult, but I know a lot of readers, librarians, and high school teachers have noted that it can do double duty as a book with crossover appeal. (less)
    Andrew MacDonald Yes! One of Zelda's adult besties is.…moreYes! One of Zelda's adult besties is. (less)

    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.06  · 
    Rating details
     ·  554 ratings  ·  243 reviews


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    Paige
    Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I absolutely loved being inside of Zelda's mind. Zelda, a high functioning young adult diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, has something about her that everyone can relate to. While exploring life’s boundaries, she often compares her world to the Viking world. Though others consider Zelda “not normal”, she considers her life a quest and strives to fulfill her legacy while searching for identity, battling for independence, and overcoming life’s villains.

    “I told him that I was used to it. “
    ...more
    Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest


    WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS is a book that has a very interesting premise but is potentially problematic in a lot of ways. I breezed through it pretty quickly-- normally a good sign-- but when I finished, I found that I had a really bad taste in my mouth. Something about the book really didn't sit right with me. I finished the book on my lunch break and spent the rest of the day with my thoughts on the back burner, trying to figure out, what,
    ...more
    Susan's Reviews
    Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: netgalley-arc
    What a fine - A VERY FINE!- story Andrew David MacDonald has brought us in When We Were Vikings. That ending was just beautiful. I'm still leaking tears as I write this review. At the end of this epic tale, this talented author did not leave any loose ends untied: we certainly have a lot to learn from Viking lore. "...For [Zelda] the world is a place where courage and being part of a tribe means more than anything else—where we are all Vikings paddling together, to the beat of the same drum."

    ...more
    Carolyn
    This is a very engaging debut novel featuring a young adult with a cognitive disability. Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, Zelda is high functioning but is quite guileless and naive, not always understanding social interactions and people's intentions, which can get her into dangerous situations. Her parents both died when she was young and she and her brother Gert were sent to live with their creepy Uncle Richard, who was cruel to Gert and liked to touch Zelda. After a knee injury put paid to ...more
    Lisa
    Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    [3.5] I have mixed feelings about When We Were Vikings. Zelda is a young woman born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, who functions well in a scripted routine. She views everything in black and white, is crazy about Vikings and uses simplistic language with "words of the day" thrown in. Initially the novel felt derivative (Curious Incident) and YA (except for the sex-talk). I stuck with it because I thought the contradictions around her burgeoning sexuality and desire for independence were ...more
    Susan's Reviews
    Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    What a fine - A VERY FINE!- story Andrew David MacDonald has brought us in When We Were Vikings. That ending was just beautiful. I'm still leaking (happy/wow) tears as I write this review. At the end of this epic tale, this talented author did not leave any loose ends untied: we certainly have a lot to learn from Viking lore. "...For [Zelda] the world is a place where courage and being part of a tribe means more than anything else—where we are all Vikings paddling together, to the beat of the ...more
    Book of the Month
    Why I love it
    by Bryn Greenwood

    As a reader, I'm always looking for the same things that attract me as a writer. I love stories that are outside the mainstream, about people who, in other books, might be relegated to sidekicks or one-dimensional sources of inspiration. When We Were Vikings hit that sweet spot for me.

    Zelda is an older teenager on the fetal alcohol spectrum, but she is nobody's disability inspiration. She sees herself as a modern-day Viking with a sacred duty to protect her family,
    ...more
    Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
    Zelda is twenty-one years old and was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. She is high functioning with her learning disability and relies on repetition to learn her tasks. She lives a simple life and maintains a constant routine to reduce anxiety. Zelda is friendly and attends community classes where she learns life skills such as basic finance and social interaction. She is also obsessed with Vikings and uses their rituals as guidance in her life.

    Zelda lives with her older brother, Gert, who has
    ...more
    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    A book where the main character is obsessed with Vikings?


    Not normally the kind of book that I would jump all over. I actually have no clue what made me want to read this book but whatever/whoever it was...thank you!!

    Zelda is a character that is different. Zelda is a character that I wish the world had more of. She is honest, outspoken for her tribe and knows what she wants. In this story we get to go with her on her quest for a bit.

    Zelda lives with her big brother Gert. She goes to the
    ...more
    Susan Johnson
    Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I needed a book like this desperately. First of all, it has a main character, Zelda, you can unreservedly root for and she has surrounded herself with a tribe that gives her needed help, support, and love. She is a 21 year old who has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and is struggling to establish her independence. Her older brother, Gert, is not ready to let go and he still wants to protect her (who doesn't?)
    Luckily she has the support of Gert's girlfriend, AK47, her doctor and the Community Center she
    ...more
    Bon
    Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Thank you, Netgalley, for an ARC!

    Wow, what a good read. A story I was into, with real daily life problems being address by an unlikely heroine you can only root for, with her Viking philosophies quick at hand and a desire to write her own legend.

    I’d certainly compare this to the Curious Incident of the Dog inasmuch as a young, mentally different protagonist leads the story, and the blunt narration made it easy but also immersive to read… But this was a young woman’s story, one I was infinitely
    ...more
    Kathryn in FL
    This highly engaging debut novel is a very original, unique story with interesting, dynamic, primary characters. Told in the first person, Zelda is a special needs person, who is highly functional adult. We watch her get entangled in some very challenging situations that most people would find difficult to work through. Her ability to apply logic and respond based on her sense of what is morally right is both her biggest strength and at times a great weakness. Even in her failures, she learns ...more
    Nick
    Dec 13, 2019 marked it as to-read
    Just got an ARC, might read it soon
    Lori
    Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Great debut novel. Tenderly told from the POV of a young woman named, Zelda. Though she suffers from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorder she still manages to face the many challenges in her life with grit and determination to become the ‘hero of her own story.’ Uplifting and inspiring this story will leave you with a tear in your eye & a smile on your face. 4 stars.
    Nursebookie
    Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Amazing!!! Full review to follow.
    Elle Rudy
    Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2020, giveaways
    You can’t be brave unless you’ve been afraid. Zelda is a Viking enthusiast who is trying to make her way in a world full of villains whilst figuring out what makes someone a hero. Born on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, she thinks and acts differently, but is still relatively high-functioning. Zelda lives with her older brother, Gert, though they’re struggling financially without any parental or family support.

    It would be easy to make her FAS the main adversary in the story, or perhaps vilify her
    ...more
    Kerrin Parris
    Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it
    When We Were Vikings is an unusual book. For my personal preference, I give it a 3-star rating. The story is narrated by Zelda, a 21-year-old high-functioning young woman who was born on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. Her father left home when she was a baby. After her mother died from cancer, she and her brilliant, but thuggish brother, Gert go to live with their uncle. Uncle Richard is truly a terrible person, a Grendel. Desperate to get away from him, Gert borrows money from a thug, who is a ...more
    Dennis
    Jan 14, 2020 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
    Starting my audio copy of When We Were Vikings —thanks Libro.Fm! I've been hearing so many good things about this book and I can't wait to dive in.
    Shelley
    Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Karen
    Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
    The main character is a high-functioning young adult diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, so yay for neurodiverse representation! She also loves Vikings and will fight you if you're a villain.
    Viral
    Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Thanks to Scout Press for the ARC at BEA 2019!

    This was an interesting, enjoyable, and honestly, empowering book! MacDonald gives us the story of Zelda, a young adult on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, who loves Vikings, honor, legends, and wants to have sex with her boyfriend Marxy, who is bit less independent as her. Zelda grapples with her desires to be like the legends of old, while dealing with problems at home that show how classic stories of good and evil are more complex in real life. Her
    ...more
    Anne
    Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    To say I adored this book would be an understatement. It's one of those rare novels that's both heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time! Meet 21-yr-old Zelda who was born with fetal-alcohol syndrome and suffers from anxiety and other social issues. She lives with brother Gert who has his own set of problems as he attempts to keep them both afloat and is involved in some shady dealings. The novel is narrated by Zelda who has such a unique voice that endears you to her from the very ...more
    Sheena ☆ Oh, the Sheenanigans!

    If you haven't already picked this gem up, the novel is centre around Zelda, a high functioning young adult diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The heroic heroine is a viking enthusiast and uses "Kepple's Guide to the Vikings", a book Zelda reads obsessively as a handbook to her everyday life. The smooth and easy read told in Zelda's perspective is a phenomenal coming-to-age story filled with love, legends, and self-discovery. It was a pull at the heartstrings type of story that further
    ...more
    Basic B's Guide
    Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    For those that have ever been told they couldn’t do something or felt constrained due to expectations, this heartwarming debut will warm even the coldest of hearts. If you loved Eleanor Oliphant you will adore Zelda MacLeish. Zelda – you are one bada$$ Viking and I would be honored to be part of your tribe.

    4.5 stars
    Joann
    First of all, I won this ARC of "When We Were Vikings" in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks to ScoutPress for the privilege to read this book for my honest review. I personally am not into Vikings, but found this book to be an amazing read for someone as old as I am. I guess we really can go back to our childhood times if we have a good author writing the book and that was true of this one. Kudos to the author for this debut. We are introduced to 21-year-old Zelda, a Viking-obsessed young woman with ...more
    Melanie  Brinkman
    When fear beats you down, you must stand back up with courage.

    Zelda lives with her older brother, Gert, and they operate by a set of rules. These rules, inspired by her idols, the Vikings, make life run smoothly for Zelda, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. The siblings lives aren't great, but things are all right - at least they are until Zelda figures out that Gert has been supporting them with wages he gets from being in the local gang. Greatly upset, Zelda turns to the few people she
    ...more
    Lisa
    Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: january-2020

    Thank you @simonschusterca for sending me a copy of When We Were Vikings by Andrew David Macdonald for an honest review. On sale January 28, 2020.

    When We Were Vikings is told from the viewpoint of Zelda, a 21 year old high functioning young woman with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. She is interested in Vikings, and proving to her brother that she is capable of much more than is expected of her. Reading from her viewpoint made this a fascinating and complex read.

    One thing I would love to know
    ...more
    Patty
    Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Book Review: When We Were Vikings
    By: Andrew David MacDonald
    Genre: Contemporary Fiction
    Format: Physical Book

    Zelda is a Viking enthusiast with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She lives with her brother Gert and has rules to live by. When Zelda discovers Gert has not been honorable- she determines to go on her own quest to be legendary. She takes what she knows about Vikings to assist her with her quest. Zelda encounters many villains and hardships along the way- but what hero doesn’t?

    I enjoyed this
    ...more
    Jordy’s Book Club
    perfect for those of you looking for a follow-up to #EleanorOliphant or #HowNotToDieAlone; about a quirky young woman who lives her life by the Viking code of conduct and must use her “skill set” to protect the brother who raised her when he finds himself in too deep with the local gang. It’s sweet and funny and a perfect read for those of you looking for a quick palette cleanser from some of the heavier books out right now
    Andrea
    Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    This book appeared in my inbox. I read the blurb and thought I'd give it a try. Yet another instance when I think the "...for fans of..." is somewhat misrepresented.

    Is this a YA novel? Perhaps. Didn't much matter to me, nor would it change my opinion. I am in the distinct minority of readers--who raved.

    About love and family. Zelda, a 21-year old woman with fetal alcohol syndrome is under her brother, Gert's care. She's obsessed with the Viking world. Zelda has limitations; but is "high
    ...more
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