Zelda is very interested in Vikings. She reads books and websites about them. Zelda is also on the fetal alcohol spectrum and loves having rules and lists for everything. She has a list of Things Legends Need and has already checked off two items. Zelda’s mother is dead and her dad is missing. She is turning twenty-one and lives with her older brother, Gert. Gert is in college but makes his living selling drugs. Some of the people he deals with are not nice. This is a story of how Zelda built her legend while protecting her tribe. Because that is what Vikings do and how Legends are made When We Were Vikings.
You can’t help but love Zelda for her love of life regardless of others’ perceptions of her. Her brother, Gert, tries to protect and watch out for her in his own unusual way. When they both get into trouble, they, along with Gert’s on-again-off-again girlfriend nicknamed AK47 by Zelda, find a road to legendary status. The problems these people face are real. However, the best part of this book for me was all the Viking lore. For example, I didn’t know anything about the Valkyries (other than the opera connection mentioned by Zelda in the book). I also liked the gentle humor throughout the story. An example was right at the beginning when Gert invites a male stripper dressed as Link to come to Zelda’s birthday seeking Zelda, of course. Instead of stripping, he made balloon dragons that looked “more like a snake that had tried to tie itself like shoelaces.”
When We Were Vikings seemed almost like a young adult read except it had a lot of talking about sex—both consensual and not. Zelda has a boyfriend named Marxy. They are curious about sex—and somewhat confused about it too. So this book may be a bit much for young teens to read. It is a heartwarming tale of how anyone can be legendary—if they have enough heart and gumption to succeed. 4 stars!
Thanks to Scout Press, Gallery Books, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.