Filled with heart and humanity, WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS is an extraordinary debut about two siblings struggling to protect each other in the face of relentless hardship and danger.

Despite touching on poverty, violence, and alcoholism, the story is one of humor and compassion and bravery. The plot blossoms and twists in unexpected ways, thanks to one badass heroine who refuses to be defined by the label she alone can use: retard.

Twenty-one-year-old Zelda was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Her brain interprets the world in ways that set her apart from most people. Obsessed with Vikings, she thinks in terms of villains and heroes, lists and rules, and what it means to be legendary. She yearns to discover her own legend and by doing so, become independent.

Protecting her tribe is paramount. She’s fiercely loyal to those she loves: her band of community center friends, including her ‘fair maiden’ boyfriend, Marky; her therapist; her brother Gert; and Gert’s on-again/off-again girlfriend, AK47, who’s the closest Zelda has to a mother. Gert, a high-school dropout, is also a big-hearted thug with the capacity to go full berserker if anyone threatens Zelda. Or him.

Life has not been kind to Zelda and Gert. Their father abandoned them, and after their mother died of cancer, they went to live with an abusive uncle. Gert is the reason they live in their own apartment and Zelda has a therapist. But financial independence has come at a price. When Zelda and AK47 discover Gert’s secrets, everything explodes, and Zelda, with her warrior heart, heads into battle. What happens next is full of surprises, creating a unique page-turner.

WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS is a must-read for fans of one of my all-time favorite books, THE RECKLESS OATH WE MADE by Bryn Greenwood.

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