Friday, April 29, 2016

The Father: Made in Sweden

Title:  The Father:  Made in Sweden, Part I
Author:  Anton Svensson (author) and Elizabeth Clark Wessel (translator)
Publication Information:  Quercus. 2016. 592 pages.
ISBN:  1681445409 / 978-1681445403

Book Source:  I received this book through a publisher's giveaway free of cost in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Shelf Awareness.

Opening Sentence:  "He's sitting in a yellow Volkswagen van that smells of sweat and pain and something else he can't quite put his finger on."

Favorite Quote:  "We are a clan ... A clan always sticks together ... A clan can't be broken ... No matter what happens ... In a clan, a real clan, we never hurt each other ... In a clan, in a real clan, we protect each other, always, always, always."

Now. Then. Then. Now. Now is the 1990s when three brothers plan, orchestrate, and execute a slew of bank robberies across Sweden. Then is the troubling childhood of these young men that offers an explanation of their capacity to commit the crimes that they do.

This book is a true story turned into fiction as told by co-authors Stefan Thunberg and and Anders Rosalind, the two halves of the pseudonym Anton Svensson. Stefan Thunberg is the fourth brother from the very family whose story this book tells. He emerged from the household but did not become a part of the crime spree. I started to say ... emerged from the same childhood, but then again, no two children, even those from the same family have the same childhood. No two children have the same memories or feel the same impact of a childhood, even as troubling as this one.

In this case, Leo is the oldest brother, the leader, the protector. He is the one who, in childhood, bears the brunt of his father's upbringing. The father's upbringing has the objective of helping his son grow up into a "man." The end result is unfortunately a man who becomes a criminal and who leads his brothers into this life of crime.

The book descriptions markets this story as a thriller. It does have action and violence. However, the story is more about the psychology and the tragedy of these brothers' lives. The now is about the planning and execution of robberies - the weapons, the money, the control, the leadership, the fear, and the pursuit. The then is about a father systemically turning his own son into a fighting machine, regardless of who is on the other side of the battle. The then is about an indoctrination process and a brain washing until a child turns into an adult who knows nothing else. It is about watching an extremist being created - a frightening reality.

I decided to read this book primarily because it is based on a true story. Before reading the book, I happened to read an article titled "I ratted out my bank robber brothers." It was about the author Stefan Thunberg and his reflections back on his childhood. The unfortunate title of the article, however, tinges, my reaction to the book. That combined with the fact that the book is written as fiction does leave me questioning what part is real and what part is sensationalized for the book. That question keeps me from completely being absorbed in this story. For my reading of the book, the question becomes the focus rather than the story itself. I am left researching to find out what the "real" story is.

The storytelling is intense and at times very difficult to get through. Beyond a point, the details become sometimes repetitive and somewhat overwhelming. I find myself skimming through the details and reading articles online to more quickly find out the rest of the story. I want to know the story, but perhaps not in all its gory detail.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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