What My Body Remembers

Single parenting is hard enough, but Ella's situation is further complicated: she's on welfare and has PTSD from witnessing her father murder her mother at age seven. She has no memory of what happened that night, but her body remembers, causing debilitating panic attacks that temporarily put her in the psych ward, which prompts child services to take away her young son, Alex.

After Ella springs him from the foster home, they flee to the seaside town in Denmark where she grew up and take refuge in her grandmother's rundown home. Ella soon realizes the only way to stop the panic attacks is finally to confront what happened the night her mother died. But can she handle the truth?

What My Body Remembers is Agnete Friis's first solo outing after cowriting the Nina Borg series (The Boy in the Suitcase) with Lene Kaaberbøl. Friis is more than up to the task of sole authorship. She doesn't sugarcoat Ella's life; mental illness and poverty, plus notoriety in her hometown for being a murderer's daughter, add up to a bleak existence.

But Ella is stronger than she realizes and isn't without humor. When a Justin Bieber song comes on, "I pounced on the radio and shut him up," because Ella has "an acute allergic reaction to anything that sounded like crying." The plot twists aren't too surprising, but Friis's compassion for damaged people and Ella's reclamation of her life and sanity make this a memorable read. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

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