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. 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...
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.
"The guileless Zelda, who narrates, is a joy... MacDonald avoids oversentimentality and a too-neat resolution, instead depicting Zelda’s desire to shape her own life and be the hero of her own legend with frankness and humor. Readers will be inspired by the unforgettable Zelda." —Publishers Weekly
"In this engaging debut novel, MacDonald skillfully balances drama and violence with humor, highlighting how an unorthodox family unit is still a family... With Zelda, he's created an unforgettable character, one whose distinctive voice is entertaining and inspiring. Will appeal to fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. An engaging, inclusive debut." —Kirkus Reviews
"Told with skillful empathy, When We Were Vikings explores a violent world as experienced by Zelda, a girl with a mental disability finding her power. Andrew David MacDonald is a writer to watch, an insightful new voice who invents in ways that feel deeply personal." —Sabina Murray, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of The Caprices
"In When We Were Vikings, MacDonald has written one of the most unique heroines I’ve ever read. You can’t help but root for, care about, and thoroughly enjoy Zelda and her quest to be legendary. A most-welcome and wonderful debut." —Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter
"It is rare that a book comes along with a character like Zelda, whose singular vision of the world transforms your own. Noble, chivalrous, wise, and true, Zelda undertakes a heroic quest that will leave you breathless and profoundly changed. When We Were Vikings is a triumph. It made my heart sing, full-throttle, like a Viking in an opera." —Jessica Grant, author of Come Thou, Tortoise