Today I’m reviewing One of Us by Åsne Seierstad, a book based on the true events of the Massacre in Norway
Please note that I try to keep my reviews fairly brief and mainly discuss my opinions. I do not like to reveal plots or spoilers as I wish the reader to experience it themselves. For anyone looking for a discussion about the contents of the book feels free to contact me! I mainly discuss the writing and my thoughts on the quality of the story. In the end, I include my favorite quotes with a quick discussion on why I chose them. If there is anything I can add to make my reviews better please do not hesitate to let me know!
Non – Fiction
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One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Review
One evening I was on the couch with a friend scrolling through movies on Netflix under the category “Based on True Events” when he came upon the movie titled “22 July“. We started to watch it, but I had to shut it off as it was too hard to watch. I immediately googled the backstory and felt a stab of guilt as this was the first I was hearing of it.
In Norway on the 22nd day of July in 2011, a lone man – who I will not name as he seeks attention for what he has done and I will never give him the satisfaction – bombed the prime minister’s office in Oslo and killed eight people before he ventured to the island of Utoya where he gunned down sixty-nine members of the Labor party which mostly consisted of teenagers.
Hearing about this tragedy broke my heart. It is 2019 and it was the first I have heard of the event. I felt immense guilt and the next day I visited my local Chapters bookstore and found this book. Within a week I completed the novel. My motivation to educate myself about this tragedy and the author’s flawless writing allowed me to absorb this book at a fast pace.
The book tackles the backstory of the perpetrator and presents the sequence of events that lead him to commit his crimes. Although I could never bring myself to understand him, Åsne’s attention to detail and reliable sources allow her to paint a very descriptive picture of the perpetrator and his life. The details included for the actual crime as it is being committed in this novel is incredibly raw and real.
I respect the author’s attention to the victims and their backstory and their life. Simon and Bano are just two of the many people impacted by this event. Part of the reason I wanted to read this book was to pay tribute to the victims. The author presents the personalities and lives lived by the victims making them no longer strangers to the reader.
There is a section of the book that outlines the massacre and is very graphic. Several parts were hard to read and my heart has been heavy ever since. It is important that you read it and I respect the author for writing it this way. For the poor victims that had to experience it, the least we can do is be fully aware of the events of that day.
Once the author has set up the background story of the perpetrator and presents the events that occurred on that day, she then discusses the aftermath. Besides the fate of the perpetrator, the author discusses the families and friends that were left to mourn. This novel is written with the utmost respect for the victims and their families. Writing on such a sensitive subject is incredibly difficult, but the author walked on eggshells flawlessly.
Quotes from One of Us by Åsne Seierstad
This quote appeared in the thoughts of one of the young victims in the massacre. This quote is significant to me as it prompted me to think about the many of these teenagers lost their futures. They had so much life left to live and it had been stolen from them by this murderer. It emphasizes the tragedy.
This point of view is the opposite of the previous quote. This is a quote spoken by the perpetrator. Terrorism and what we consider to be terrorism is greatly skewed by racism and stereotypes. This man embodies exactly what a terrorist is. This quote emphasizes that this attack was in fact an act of terrorism.
Although the contents of this book can be very difficult to read as it is a tragedy, there are glimmers of hope in the lives of the victims and the ones they left behind. This quote comes from a victim who managed to survive the shooting, but whose life was changed forever. This quote should inspire every reader. After a traumatic experience and having his life altered he continued to have hope and fight for his will to live. That is true courage.
This final quote I wanted to include just to emphasize what I had said earlier about the author and their respect is shown to the tragedy in the making of this book. I love to see the good in people and this gesture is incredibly kind and thoughtful. I wanted everyone to see it.
This novel is one of the best I have read this year and in my total reading career. It is hard for me to say I “enjoyed” it since it is based on a terrible tragedy. I love to educate myself and be aware of the past and present lives of the world around me. If you have not heard about this tragedy or are interested in learning more I urge you to read this book. At the very least watch the Netflix adaptation “22 July”. Please leave your thoughts below in the comments and let me know if you too have read this book and what you think!