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When We Were Vikings

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4.34  ·  Rating details ·  170 ratings  ·  114 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.”
...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2020 by Gallery/Scout Press
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  • When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
    When We Were Vikings
    by
    Release date: Jan 28, 2020
    *ADVANCED READER'S COPIES*

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

    Meet Zelda. She’s your regular Word-of-the-Day following,
    ...more

    Format: Print book

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 50 copies available, 3208 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Dec 06 - Dec 23, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

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    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)
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    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.34  · 
    Rating details
     ·  170 ratings  ·  114 reviews


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    Paige
    Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Susan's Reviews
    Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    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 courageous 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
    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
    Bon
    Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Kerrin Parris
    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
    Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    I have an ARC coming! This could be either really good or exploitative and awful.

    Let's hope it's the former. :)
    Viral
    Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Shelley
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Karen
    Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    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
    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
    Anne
    Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    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
    Andrea
    Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
    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
    Keri-Anne
    Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Recommended to Keri-Anne by: NetGalley
    Shelves: netgalley
    Thank you to #NetGalley and #Simon&SchusterCanada for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    First and foremost, this is a simple book of strength, love, sacrifice and family. Twenty-one year old Zelda was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. After a rough start to life, we meet her living with her brother Gert and she is wonderfully obsessed with Vikings. Gert is having trouble supporting the two of them which causes trouble for him and everyone around him. Zelda takes
    ...more
    Rick
    Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: youth
    Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to preview this book. Zelda suffers from FAS, but is fairly high functioning. She has an older brother, his "girlfriend" and her own friend , Marxy. Interesting story of how she comes with life. Recommended.
    Craig Fehrman
    Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I got to spend some time on the road with Andrew when we were both promoting our books. He's a terrific guy, and he's written a terrific book. The thing that stuck with me is Zelda and her voice and perspective, which are sweet and hilarious and very hard to pull off. If you look up interviews where Andrew talks about how and why he wrote the novel, you'll see why he was able to nail Zelda. If you like funny and sincere fiction, this book is for you!
    Allyson Preble
    Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
    My opinion on this book drastically changed as I worked my way through it. It started slow and the writing style took a little getting used to. You read from the POV of Zelda, a girl who is on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum and obsessed with vikings. In the beginning the viking facts were...a lot. I took away from the story line for me, rather than adding to it. But as you learn more about Zelda and tribe and everything she is dealing with in her life I began to appreciate how they tied together. ...more
    James
    Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    The story is not only heart-breaking, but also uplifting; not only gut-wrenching, but also encouraging: there is fear, there is humor; there are heroes, there are villains; lists, books, sex, hatred, love, fury, death, life--in short, When We Were Vikings does it all in one sharply and lovely world created by my new super-duper character in fiction, Zelda. As the Sacramento Kings' good old play-by-play announcer Grant Napear says, "If you don't like that, you don't like reading books." At all.

    ...more
    Barb Martin
    Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Not all of the monsters are outsiders. Sometimes, the grendels can be part of our own tribes.

    Andrew David McDonald writes "When We Were Vikings" with the same charm as other books featuring a protagonist who is "different." This story, though, is much darker.

    Zelda loves vikings. She knows the sagas, the language and the importance of the hero's journey. Her tribe includes an older brother dubbed by others as an angry thug, his former girlfriend who is Zelda's best friend and her friends at the
    ...more
    Debi Hawkes
    Enjoyable book. Zelda, the primary character, born on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, was not only interesting, but while creating her own "legend", an outstanding example of family (tribe) love, courage, and devotion.

    I found the first half of the book to be the best, after that things got a bit "tidy".

    I received an ARC from NetGalley publisher Simon Schuster in exchange for my honest review.
    Lynne Lambdin
    Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley
    When We Were Vikings is a story surrounding two siblings that are essentially one another’s life. We have our narrator, Zelda, a grown woman who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She loves Vikings and likes rules. Zelda uses the code of Vikings to improve her life and circumstance while also rescuing those she loves. Gert is Zelda’s big brother who supports Zelda solely. He was a young boy pushed into a rough life that can get you into trouble. From there, the siblings try to save one another ...more
    Michele
    When We Were Vikings is one of those unique and rare finds in the book world. I enjoyed it as I read it but am most impressed by how much it has stuck with me since I finished reading. It is told from the perspective of Zelda, a feisty 21 year old woman who is on the fetal alcohol spectrum. At birth, she wasn't given much hope for a future. However, she's proven all the doubters wrong as she is high functioning with a strong moral compass. Zelda has a fascination with everything related to ...more
    Laura Hill
    Thank you to Gallery/Scout Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on Jan 28th, 2019.

    Writing: 4/5 Plot: 4.5/5 Character: 5/5

    21-year old Zelda is obsessed with Vikings. Drawing inspiration from Viking lore, she is writing (and living) her own legend, tackling life with courage and loyalty to her tribe. She was also born on the fetal alcohol syndrome spectrum (FASD) and is aware of needing to take things slowly,
    ...more
    David
    Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Review
    When We Were Vikings
    by Andrew David MacDonald

    I adored this book. It is beautifully written, tells a terrific story, has some wonderful characters, especially the truly marvelous Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who shares her story with us. I can only hope that author Andrew David MacDomald has a sequel on the way. I read this book courtesy of the author, NetGallery and publisher Pocket Books. In exchange for an honest review. That's easy: READ THIS BOOK! You will not regret
    ...more
    Rose
    Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: giveaways
    ***I'm not sure who to contact about this, but there is an error on Page 256. It says "I feel asleep with my laptop in my lap" instead of "I fell asleep with my laptop in my lap."

    I'd like to thank Scout Press/Simon & Schuster for providing me with an Advanced Readers Edition of this book for me to read and review.

    Although there's pretty mature, triggering topics explored, the book is appropriate for Young Adult and older, and it's one everyone should read. We get an intimate,
    ...more
    Marjorie DeLuca
    Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This was such a touching story of the deep and caring bond between two siblings, Gert and Zelda, and the courage and resilience of Zelda, a young woman with special needs as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome. Zelda has a love of everything related to Vikings and the story opens on her 21st birthday when Gert "hires a Viking" to appear at Zelda's birthday party. The story really kicks into gear when Gert is accepted into college, but soon seems to be falling into his old ways of alcohol and drug ...more
    Erin
    Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: favorites, 2019, arcs
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC!
    This book is beautiful, silly, scary, real, you name it...It had me on a roller coaster of emotions the entire time.
    When We Were Vikings tells the story of Zelda, a 21-year-old girl who is on the fetal alcohol spectrum. She lives with her brother Gert, who runs with the wrong crowd but does so in order to provide for himself and Zelda. Zelda is a viking enthusiast, and uses a book about vikings as a handbook to life. She follows the rules of
    ...more
    Danielle
    Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
    I received an early copy of this book from Net Galley.

    The story is told from the point of view of Zelda, a woman who was born with mental defects due to her mother’s alcoholism during pregnancy. Zelda lives with her older brother, Gert, who does his best to take care of her, but is having a hard time taking care of himself. Zelda loves Viking legends and decides that she needs to become legendary by fighting villains, going on quests, and even earning the love of a fair maiden.

    I found this
    ...more
    Barbara
    Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This is a beautiful story that is narrated by Zelda, a young adult with fetal alcohol syndrome who is entranced by Vikings and tries to live by their values. While she idolizes her older brother, Gert, Zelda ends up surpassing him in courage and morals. Despite some harsh realities, she proves to everyone that she is not as limited as they think she is. Women are the heroes in this story, both Zelda and Gert's girlfriend, Annie, who is on a quest of her own. Highly recommended for those who ...more
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