Monday, February 24, 2020

WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS by Andrew David MacDonald

  When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★
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. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.

But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.

When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all...      We are all legends of our own making. - Goodreads


I listed this as one of my Most Anticipated Books for 2020, but I never anticipated just how much I’d be blown away by how good this is. For one, Zelda, a young-adult born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, is really engaging. I was most fascinated by her lists and her quest for a better version of herself. Zelda’s honesty, naivety, and spunk for life are refreshing. Meanwhile, her devotion to her brother Gert is deep but may also be a sign of her vulnerability.

Andrew David MacDonald created characters that literally emanate oomph from the pages –from Zelda herself down to her last villain. I like how he portrayed them with a specific purpose, eliminating gray areas for the development of the story. And although I’m almost always afraid for Zelda, as the story progresses, I am cheering her on and totally invested in her triumphs. She is a Viking hero! MacDonald brilliantly captured the essence that there are no big or small accomplishments, they are all the same and worth celebrating every time.

Inside those 336 pages, MacDonald managed to squeeze in huge topics –alcoholism, poverty, healthcare, abuse, and equal opportunity for everyone. He employed a witty and affecting narrative that engages the reader straightforwardly. Specifically, as he creates this safe environment and supportive people for Zelda, he emphasizes the essentials for security, as well as human growth and development.

I have to add that Pheobe Strole did a marvelous job narrating the audiobook, go check it out.

I am also glad to know that Andrew David MacDonald was a recipient from the Canada Council for the Arts and I do hope they continue supporting emerging authors.



About the Author:

Andrew David MacDonald grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He won a Western Magazine Award for Fiction, was shortlisted for the Canadian National Magazine Award for Fiction, and his work has been anthologized in four volumes of The Journey Prize Stories, collecting the year’s best Canadian stories from emerging writers. He has an MFA from the Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


  1. When I clicked on this in the linky, I thought it was going to be non-fiction, but this sounds even better #ReviewotM

    1. It is! This review is not enough to describe how awesome this book is.
      Happy reading!