|Avioliittotesti (The Marriage Test) - Veera Nieminen / Johanna Kartio - 2019
Romance. East meets west. Family.
STORY: While studying at university, Aino, who is from eastern Finland falls in love with Jussi, who is from western Finland. They decide that she will come to his family's farm and live with them for one month over the summer. Aino is put to the test adjusting to life and manners in western Finland and so is their relationship. In addition to these new challenges, the couple must decide what will happen when the month is up.
This is a selko version of the original book, Avioliittosimulaattori (Marriage Simulation) published by Tammi in 2013. The original was nominated for the Helsingin Sanmoat Literature Prize in 2013 and has been called the most entertaining romance novel of 2013.
LANGUAGE: The stand out language point of this novel is the use of dialect. While adjusting to life in western Finland, Aino faces challenges sometimes understanding what Jussi's relatives are saying! Many Finnish as foreign language readers will empathize with this challenge. But never fear, the author presents the new-to-Aino vocabulary in humorous ways that are explained to the reader at the same time as Aino.
The story is told in diary format, with each day representing each chapter. At 32 days, this translates into 160 pages, which is quite a cut from the original version's 260 pages. Aino tells the story in first person perspective, so reader's follow along from her perspective as she attempts to navigate Jussi's home world. The book is set in modern day, which is a refreshing change from many selkokirja, and includes the use of cell phones and video chats.
Based on the length and dialect used, this book is ideal for a B2.2 reader. However, if a B1 reader is up to the challenge and willing to put in a little more time to look up words and grammar, this is an excellent step into contemporary Finnish fiction. This book will particularly appeal to readers who already enjoy reading contemporary romance novels in their own language.
CHARACTERS: Aino is in her 20's and in the middle of her college career. Her parents are divorced and she keeps in touch with both. Jussi is her most serious relationship. Originally planning to spend the summer with her friends in their summer cabin, she boldly takes the risk of spending one month on a farm, outside her comfort zone just to be with him. Jussi is around the same age and attends the same university as Aino. Unlike her town upbringing, Jussi grew up on the farm with his father, uncle and younger brother. Aino is also his most serious relationship and he helps as much as he can to help her adjust to his family.
The book comes with a handy character guide at the beginning.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK: While many selkokirja are originals written by a single author, a welcome trend is the selko-translation of many contemporary Finnish books. This adds an element of integration mentally to the foreign language reader, being able to understand what other native Finns are reading and discussing on the bus or in the newspaper. As a much talked about book when it was first released, this selko published version allows it to enter the spotlight once again, thanks to the adaptation.
On a side note, I attended a selkokirja event at Oodi library in Helsinki on September 18, 2018 and had the opportunity to listen to Johanna Kartio speak about this book and her work as a selkokirja author. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend attending these kinds of events in the future!