«Accurate about vulnerable time.»
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It is Stella who is struggling with this identity problem. She is one of the girls in Anne Wisløff’s new youth novel “Like me – first time”. The book is based on the sixth season of NRK’s series Lik meg, where Wisløff has the script and direction. The other girls we follow are temperamental Oda and popular Sofie. Into this rather fragile trinity, dumps Leo, with whom Sofie lies. For now that Sofie is sixteen, it’s all about sex. The line between those who have done it and those who have not is sharp and hard. Everyone is terrified of ending up in the group “the inexperienced and unsuccessful”. It’s just a matter of getting it over with, right?
Initially, the novel has similar sequencing as the TV series “Shame” and “Like Me”. The pace is fast, and the overall structure is the days of the week. It all starts on Saturday when Sofie celebrates her sixteenth birthday. The strict, religious parents have left and Sofie is being bullied. She ends up having sex for the first time with a strange boy, Leo, and in the wake follows anxiety, self-hatred, rumors and misunderstandings. All three girls are in trouble, for various reasons. Oda thinks sadly: “Sofie is on the other side, and we will never be on the same side again”.
Tempo and dynamics trump to some extent linguistic nuances and character development, and the girls could have been given more background and uniqueness. The pedagogical element shines through, and the themes of adolescence come on the assembly line; sex pressure, drunkenness, pregnancy, assault pill, porn as a teacher, conflicts with believing parents, shuttle bus rolling, sexual identity. It may seem a bit prescriptive, but the advice that is conveyed is crucial:
Remember consent! Use a condom! And comforting; no one fixes sex the first time.
Wisløff highlights important topics, and gives a sharp picture of how quickly young people lose control of their own history, due to social media. And by letting the point of view change between the four actors, she makes visible the vulnerability and mismatch between the young people’s self-observation and the gaze of others. She clarifies how lightning-fast wrong conclusions are drawn: NOBODY feels as secure and successful as the viewers think.
Adolescence is bloody serious for all fighters, and “Like me – first time” is an accurate study of both the tops and the bottoms, of the infatuations and defeats.
Stella puts it well when she says life feels like an endless audition. While Sofie gets a boyfriend, Stella’s infatuation becomes more difficult. She longs for Sofie. She kisses Sofie on impulse and afterwards confides in Oda. It’s a chance to take, because Oda can make drama. But in this book, everything liberatingly is updated and Oda’s reaction to the kiss is: “Oi, she says and looks at me worriedly. Sofie is busy ».