Britt-Marie Was Here


9781501142536Initially I found the cover off-putting, probably because so many books with a female protagonist show a woman’s back on the cover and it just seemed cliche. When I saw the book at the library book sale, however, the rat and the sensible shoes won me over. Having read A Man Called Ove, I knew that there would be something I could relate to in the book, so I took the plunge. I loved Britt-Marie, although her relationship with Kent, her husband was stifling, in that she subjugated herself to his needs, and was happy to do it, but Kent never really saw her. Sadly, Brett-Marie spent most of her adult life hoping to be seen. “You are here,” was a revealing scene early on in the story when Britt-Marie took a position as the caretaker of the recreation center in tiny, run-down Borg. The girl in the wheelchair whom Britt-Marie called “Somebody” hung a map, rather low on the wall because of the wheelchair, that marked the location of the center with an arrow and the words “you are here”. Britt-Marie found that comforting because, “Sometimes it’s easier to go on living, not even knowing who you are, when at least you know precisely where you are while you go on not knowing.”  Despite her social awkwardness and rigidity of habit, Britt-Marie forged ahead to do her job, and in the process discovered that she was more than just, “here.”

THE BEAUTY: Sven, the local policeman, was such a good friend to Britt-Marie, finding her a place to stay and helping her move in. A bit shy, Sven was often tongue-tied in Britt-Marie’s company, yet, it was important to him to share with her his favorite place in the whole world. He took her down a secluded road  to a lake surrounded by trees, no people about. In my mind’s eye, I pictured Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, because it’s serene and quiet and intimate in scale. 18aa17dde38dc8a47b90b842a76c849c-walden-pond.jpg
Photo by Lonely Planet

THE FOOD: The children at the recreation center needed a soccer coach, and since the pool of adults to meet that challenge was shallow, Vega invited Britt-Marie to dinner at her house with Sami, her older brother and chef, and younger brother, Omar. The tacos Sami served, which Britt-Marie had never had, were intended to soften her up so that she’d accept the position. She found a kindred spirit in Sami when she saw that his cutlery drawer was perfectly arranged.

Ground Beef Taco

1 lb. ground beef (70-80% lean)
½ C onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T chili powder
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
1 C tomato sauce

Saute the ground beef and onion in a saute pan, adding the garlic when the beef is nearly cooked.  Drain the grease, then add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add mixture to taco shells and garnish with sour cream, lettuce, jalapenos, and salsa.

IMG_1684A simple, yet filling meal.



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