Thanks to Allen and Unwin for a copy of this adorable story. Wonderful Feels Like This is a story of an unlikely friendship between a bullied fourteen year old, Steffi, who is learning bass guitar and an old man living in a nursing home, Alvar, who was once a jazz musician. The two bond over Povel Ramel, a Swedish musician and slowly their friendship evolves as Alvar tells his story of being a jazz musician in Stockholm during the war and Steffi tries to navigate the perilous waters of being a teenager who doesn’t quite fit in.
I loved Alvar and his stories of the war, how he courted the lovely Anita, how he rose to become a noted jazz musician and how it all seemingly fell apart. His story was a fascinating one and one very different to many that feature during WWII with the scandinavian city seeing minimal conflict. Steffi was a great role model or younger readers. The way she handles herself with persistent and vicious bullying is commendable. Her unfaltering knowledge in who she is and what is important to her is a great lesson and if only we all had the wisdom to rise above. I very much enjoyed her perspective and found myself wishing her only the best.
I did find some of the transitions from the past to the present a little jarring and awkward, perhaps a by product of being translated? Either way, it was still a pleasant read and did not disrupt the flow of the story. I would have liked a little more from the novel. A little more depth to the characters, a little more connection, a little more believability. As much as I loved Steffi she seemed a little too mature, a little too sure of herself for such a young character. This novel touches on several important themes, bullying the strongest, but the novel only skated the surface and I feel think novel could pack a little more punch if it has delved a little deeper.
Overall, this was a feel-good and heart-warming story that I would most definitely recommend. There are some great concepts and beautiful characters within the pages that young musicians and bullying victims might particularly connect with. Wonderful Feels Like This was a charming novel, which I give three music notes, an important part of Steffi and Alvar’s friendship.