Coming to Terms with the Very Worst (1996)

Att komma till ro med det allra värsta (Coming to Terms with the Very Worst), published in 1996 and as a paperback a few years later, is a personal memoir about the murder of my mother. World Literature Today appreciated the "amazingly restrained and at times almost dispassionate prose" and found it to be a "very moving and passionate tale about all mothers and daughters". 

From the World Literature Review, 1997:

'"Are human beings evil or just incapable of dealing with life?" could well be the theme of Petra Östergren's debut book, Att komma till ro med det allra värsta (Coming to Terms with the Very Worst). The story of the author's attempt to come to terms with her relationship with her mother and her mother's violent death by battering at the hands of the mother's boyfriend when Östergren was a young adult, the work cannot be pigeonholed into any genre or category. Spanning the range of human emotions from anger and despair to relief and release, it is a diary in prose and poetry, a series of vignettes from life with the author's mother and dialogues with the reader, as well as interviews and observations by the mother's friends--all interwoven with dry police accounts of the murder and autopsy reports.


In amazingly restrained and at times almost dispassionate prose, Östergren describes her too-precipitous leap as an eleven-year-old into adult responsibility, her feelings about her mother, her coming to terms with her mother's illness (for Östergren passionately believes that alcoholism is an illness), and her long way back from the precipice to the realisation that she has finally overcome: "I begin to see the time with her as a gift and the time without her not as a deprivation."'

For the full review, click here