My daughter and I often talk about books, but only occasionally do we read the same titles. She knows that I often read cozy mysteries, something she does not, and that I also like books set in Wisconsin, so she made a point of telling me about a off-beat slender Young Adult book she had found at her library. She liked the book's "tongue in check" point of view and want to know if I had heard of it. A quick online check verified that my library system had one copy, so I reserved it, and moved it to the top of the to-be read pile when it came. Kersti Niebruegge grew up in Wisconsin and since graduating from UW-Madison has worked in television for BBC Worldwide, Conan, and Late Night with Seth Meyers. Interesting mix, right? Well, I would say Kersti brought her Conan and Late Night mindset right into this hilarious story.
First, there is the story of how the village got its name (no spoilers here). Then there is the heavy laden humor that comes from the Norwegian heritage of the community -- no normal fish fries here; instead there are weekly church lutefisk suppers where the neighborhood boys compete to see who will barf first. Then there are names -- one family has named each of its sons after a different Green Bay Packer player's name and can't wait to have a grandson so they can add Aaron Rodgers to the family The story's arch villain's real name is Deputy Mayor Trollqvist, but everyone, including the sheriff, calls him The Troll. Megan Svenson, niece to the sheriff and the author of the high school's blog entitled UFF DA. is sure that The Troll is out to ruin any fun the teens consider. It's the final straw when The Troll cancels Opening Day, a town-wide celebration of the opening of Musky season, after 24 musky-shaped mailboxes are stolen. Even the school principal who had looked forward to the long three day weekend as much as the kids had, is upset by the cancellation.
Kersti Niebruegge has taken fishing traditions, supper clubs, boat houses, and custard stands -- all Wisconsin hallmarks --and used them as the backdrop for a quirky, satirical young adult mystery.
I am not sure if that intended audience will grab hold of this humor, but I was entertained throughout the 147 pages and would return to Mistake for another visit. GO MUSKIES.
P.S. I know that satire points out humorously real flaws and weaknesses, but still I admit that I was a bit uncomfortable when the author had the sheriff be someone who normally overlooked the underage drinking of the town's teens. To her credit, she did often warn them about driving. Anyone who has worked with teenagers or is/was the parent of teens in Wisconsin (or anywhere for that matter), underage alcohol use is no joke. Having the death of even one teen in your high school is more than enough for a lifetime, and I was just uncomfortable with the flippant inclusion of underage partying.