At fifteen years, Jonas begins to take an interest in his older brother, Paul, who was killed in 1968 in an accident at the age of fifteen just seventeen months before Jonas himself was born. This interest will consume Jonas for the next three years, until at the age of eighteen his investigations really take off and when he is eventually able to solve many answered questions.
Jonas pursues his investigation with rather like a young Sherlock Holmes, and he soon discovers that his brother had an intense love affair with another boy about a year older prior to his accident; but what he really needs to learn now is whether his brother's death was an accident of intentional, especially in the light of further shocking discoveries. With help, surreptitiously from his parents, more openly from his mother's childhood friend Daniel, and with the aid of Paul's diary and old photographs, Jonas is able to put together all the pieces.
The image created of Paul is of an intense, thoughtful and caring boy with a great interest in nature; and Jonas is very much like his brother, both in nature and, although physically no more alike than just brothers, he is yet very much the image of his older brother.
This is a delightful story, Jonas is totally unphased by the discovery that his older brother was gay, accepting it without question. In his first person narrative Jonas often writes as if he is addressing Paul directly, and increasingly through the account Paul becomes more alive, and the distance between the two boys narrows, at time it is almost as if they are one. Jonas is a very perceptive young man with a very reasoning mind, for a few chapters he creates a moving and frank third person account of the activities and the beautiful relationship Paul and his lover shared.
First published in Swedish, this is beautifully written novel, translated from the the Swedish by the author himself with language that is better than most whose first tongue is English. It is a sparse account in the sense that words are never wasted, the writing is very direct, but it is far from sparse in emotional content, the love that Jonas has for his older brother is more than evident. It is a thought provoking, moving and memorable story.