Cover Image: Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine

Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine

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Member Reviews

Gorgeous title drew me right in.Lyrical writing the lead character that sees the world through the world of mathematics.Stream of consciousness writing will be recommending.#netgalley #harpervia.
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I’m judging the L.A. Times 2021 fiction contest. It’d be generous to call what I’m doing upon my first cursory glance—reading. I also don’t take this task lightly. As a fellow writer and lover of words and books, I took this position—in hopes of being a good literary citizen. My heart aches for all the writers who have a debut at this time. What I can share now is the thing that held my attention and got me to read on even though it was among 296 other books I’m charged tor read. 

Astonishing prose.  “When Mama sings, it’s as if time holds its breath. As if it stops and waits. What is it waiting for? For Rakel to find something to do, so that it can come to its senses and start moving again. So it can run and run but never come to the door. Just like the riddle of a nursery rhyme.”
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Let me start off by saying that "Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine," is one of the most beautiful titles I have ever come across. And no matter how many books I read, it will remain in my top favorites. 

Unfortunately, that's my favorite thing about the book. I don't know why, but I felt disconnected throughout the journey of the protagonist. I love books that deal with music. But let me end by saying that I'm not the biggest fan of mathematics. 

However, I will be reading more books in the future by this author.
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Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Klara Hveberg and translated by Alison McCullough is the kind of novel that will sneak up on many readers then absolutely captivate them. 

The character of Rakel is that rare one that is a very specific type yet almost everyone will find something, or many somethings, to relate to. I happened to be one of those who could relate and understand most of her feelings, thoughts, and coping mechanisms. But because so much of her musing, while specific to her way of thinking, is on topics and ideas that we all think about, most people will find common ground. And that common ground will lead the reader into becoming ever more invested in her story.

Yet the story is just part of the appeal of the book. As we read what Rakel thinks or how she prefers to see given situations we also begin to consider how we feel about these things. We may initially have a position on it but Rakel, or perhaps more accurately for this purpose Hveberg, offers such intriguing perspective and insight that we must, as active readers, reconsider what we brought to our reading. Does each instance change our opinion? No, but I do think each instance changes us and makes us more open to viewing things differently.

I would highly recommend this to readers who like a good story told lyrically while also engaging our more abstract mental processes to reconsider how we view life. Admittedly this won't appeal to those who prefer more action in their fiction, this is largely internal to the character. 

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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This was two different women's take on what love was without the fulfillment of having the relationship legitimized. I really liked Klara Hveberg's emphasis on playing the violin and listening to different composers, because I am presently in Vienna and have been reading and listening to my grandson playing all the composers that Klara has us listening too. Rackel Havberg is the protagonist throught out the story and she was in love with one of her teachers, Jakob Krogstad, who she earns a PHD in Math to be equal too. The other woman was Sofia Kovalevskaya who was in love with another math professor Karl Weierstrass, this was in the 1870's. Rackel uses Sofia's life to pretend to make a movie with Jacob for his interest. But we see that he is only interested in Rakel for the sex that they have. Rakel gives him 8 years to decide between her or his wife. When this doesn't happen she gives him another deadline. Math is everything that happens to Rackel and she gives examples that I used for myself, showing my wife how her shoes are always untied and she's learned the wrong way to tie them. We always have the feeling that it will be a noir book and as it happens it becomes true. I think this book really involved me using my mind much more than other Scandinavian books with all the things that Klara brought up about math. It was mind bending.
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Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine is a story about Raquel, a math genius, and her life and love affairs with  people.  This book is definitely a character study, but there are still major plot points, like break ups and make ups, that Raquel has to figure out.  Raquel's story is told side by side with Sophia's, another genius in her own time. 

What I loved about this book was how relatable Raquel was, even though she is probably very different from most people.  The way she thinks is different, the way she talks is different, yet she still felt love and hurt all the same as anyone else.  

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to every reader; like I said, it's a character study, so it's not for anyone who wants any kind of action.  However, it's beautifully told, and Raquel's character will definitely stick with me.
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For all the navel gazing in this semi-autobiographical novel about a young female mathematician making her way in the world, this book feels like it was written by someone who needs to do some more self-reflection .  There's a lot of talk about love and grand emotions here, but it's all too abstract and a little bit muddled -- reading this novel is like listening to a naive friend gush about the latest young man she's infatuated with.  I would not recommend.
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"What if time is not a straight number line, but a coiled up spiral? Where the centuries lie against one another, separated only by thin membranes. If you set your ear against the membrane, you might hear vibrations from the other side, from those who were here before, and those who will come after?"

Klara Hevberg has created a beautiful and lyrical, sad and quiet meditation on loneliness and connection. Our narrator is Rakel, a mathematician with a unique way of perceiving the world and a love for patterns and puzzles. She seeks deep love and connection in life, which she obliquely finds in another math professor and in a historical mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya.
The novel is a pleasure to read and savor. Its not heavy on plot but the chapters are short and easy to follow. It is heavy on metaphors involving mathematics concepts, but they are well enough explained for a non math person to follow.
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Rakel is a brilliant woman with a mathematical  way of thinking that was so engaging. Rakel was constantly reasoning and contemplating and considering the world with her logical mind. My bachelors is in mathematics and I tend to think in a lot of the same ways that Rakel does, so it was particularly fun to read from this perspective. It really took me back to my years in college and I loved the reminder of various concepts that have slipped my mind since wrapping up my degree.

At the start, Rakel falls for her professor and they engage in an affair that lasts years. There is an undercurrent of both love and loneliness throughout their romance. 

The two find themselves curious about the relationship between two historical figures, Sofja Kovalevskaya and Karl Weierstrauss, that is eerily similar to their own. The book then alternates between Rakel’s point of view and Sofja’s story. 

It took some reflection to really wrap my head around this book and all that Klara Hveberg has done within it. I am particularly entranced by how she tied Rakel’s specialty in fractals into the story with the comparison between Rakel and Sofja. Hveberg was able to create beautiful, lyrical sentences with math that blew me away. The additional layer of Rakel’s relationship with music was icing on the literary cake. 

The last portion of the book was not quite as engaging as the first half that I absolutely adored. However, I did appreciate the chronic illness representation. Rakel’s health clearly impacts her ability to experience the world in the same way that she did at the start of the book and results in this shift in storytelling partway through.

This book is not going to be for everyone given the heavy math focus, but it is truly a special one that had me smiling throughout. Thank you, thank you to HarperVia and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this beauty. While this is, in part, a romance, it is so much more than that. I wanted nothing more than for Rakel to find her happiness. I expect I’ll be grabbing a copy to have on my shelves and relive one day. I’m certain that I’ll grasp even more of Hveberg’s genius with a reread.
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4.5
"You were born to be expanded just as the universe is expanding. Ever since you were born, you have been growing. At first, everyone can see this, but after a while it happens more subtly, and you yourself must find the things that expand you. The colors. The books. The people. Everything in the universe expands and is expanded by forces beyond itself. 
You were born to evolve. And you evolve most through encounters with others. And love is the only way you can truly weave yourself in and out of another person. It's the tentacles of the fractal. It trusts and believes in everything. But it will also teach you about forgiveness."

I never thought I'd love anything to do with math, but this book made even the worse subject seem like poetry.
It was written beautifully and entirely unique. Transfixed with the way the characters' minds work.  I felt a personal connection to Rakel's struggles. I blame it on us  having the same Myers Briggs type, but her thoughts resonated so deeply with me, it was like I was looking into a mirror of my own mind. Klara Hveberg was able to put thoughts and feelings into words in a way that I have never been able.
"It was one of the universe's magical moments, when you suddenly see yourself in another. See one of the other versions of yourself- who you might have been, had the building blocks only been stacked in a different order."
 
Somehow melding mathematics poetry, and music together, this book was it's own special kind of a work of art.
You simultaneously feel the empty isolation and fullness of love and life that the main character feels so deeply. You feel them so strongly, almost all at once, in the same moment. This book makes you feel like the best and worst parts of life. A reminder that some of the happiest moments always have a tinge of sadness. That the happiest moment are often looked back with the most sadness.

This book reminds you how the things that can expand inside of you can also leave you feeling the most empty.

I absolutely loved this, it was one of a kind and the best kind of surprise.
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This was a beautiful novel about Rakel, a young woman who has a aptitude for mathematics as well as an appreciation for music. The novel starts with a child-aged Rakel finding challenges in navigating social spaces. When she is nineteen years old, she still has trouble socially connecting, but her passion for math has skyrocketed. She attends a university in Oslo where she meets Jakob, an older teacher who takes an interest in Rakel that bleeds over into a relationship, even though he is married. Rakel reminds Jakob of Sofja Kovalevskaja, another brilliant mathematician whom he happens to be writing a novel about. This beautifully rendered novel begs the question what must one sacrifice to achieve brilliance? And can the key to a fulfilling life be found in a equation? This lyrical novel was beautiful and breathtaking to read, perfect for readers who appreciate great writing on a line level. Thank you to HarperVia and NetGalley for the advanced review.
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This is beautiful and tender and genuinely hurt my feelings, but in the best way. I do think some of the writing feels stilted, but I believe this is more a translation issue than a Hveberg issue. I cannot recommend this enough.
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This one was tough for me. I almost DNF'd a few times, but didn't so that I could review it. The problem for me was the writing. It felt distant and sterile, like the characters were dolls that someone was playing with, rather than individuals. I have to wonder how much of that is the translation, or if that is typical of Norwegian novels. I think "Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine" is one of the best book titles I've ever read, but the book itself was a miss for me.
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This is a beautifully written piece of literature. The story centers around Rakel and Jakob. Rakel is an extremely introverted but brilliant student fascinated and more at ease with numbers than with people. Jakob is her older teacher and he is drawn to Rakel’s intelligence. Rakel reminds Jakob of Sofia Kovalevskaja, the first female professor of mathematics, who is also the subject of a book Jakob is writing. Through the love of numbers and brilliant minds, Jakob and Rakel come together and become lovers despite the fact that Jakob is married. This book is a beautiful journey about all the variables that add up to love and give meaning to life.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I received this from Netgalley.com.

"Rakel has always been more comfortable with numbers than with people. She moves to Oslo to attend university and meets Jakob, a brilliant older teacher who becomes fascinated by her quick mind."

Good read! Lots of quotable quotes.. 'now she has no one. Nobody she can lean her loneliness against'. I could feel Rakel's suffering as she struggled within herself.

4☆
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This book hit me right in the feels that I wasn't really expecting for it to hit me. I loved the storyline and how the two characters just intertwine in such a way that it feels realistic and natural. I really enjoyed this novel and can't wait to get a physical copy of the novel.
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Thank you for NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for honest feedback.

I selected this book on a whim, and was not disappointed. Klara Hveberg stuns us with poetic language and a deep, stream-of-consciousness look into the mind of a woman who sees the world through the lens of math and music. It was a slow start, but the premise hooked me and kept me until the end.
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To generalize, Norwegian is a pretty introverted culture, and Rakel is quite anti-social even for a Norwegian. She grew up with a self-conscious, insecure Asian mom, preferring numbers and math over people and society, and at the age of 19 left her hometown for university in Oslo. Where she met Professor Jakob Krogstad. This novel intersperses short chapters about the relationship between math student Rakel and math professor Jakob with the subject of his research: the relationship between 19th century gifted math student Sofja Kovalevskaya and Europe's greatest mathematician Karl Weierstrass.

I had never heard of Sofja Kovalevskaja before, the greatest known woman scientist before the twentieth century, a mathematician, the first female professor of mathematics in northern Europe and one of the first women to work as editor of a scientific journal, in a time when women required special permission to even study mathematics. And she was an accomplished writer to boot! I love all the wordplay, the way math is presented in lyrical, romantic forms, and that the story flows so naturally I didn't even realize it was a translation until midway through. For most of the story Rakel's friends are either imaginary, teachers, or her parents. I love the connections made between math, music and literature. I really identified with Rakel as a hazel-eyed half-Asian INFJ character who connects so deeply, however misguidedly, to an INTJ who breaks her heart. This is a moving novel about brilliance and quirkiness, about depth and distance, about love and loneliness.
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This was not an easy read and may better suit people who are interested in mathematics. I struggled and slogged through this book for days and now that I’ve finished, I honestly can’t tell you what it’s even about. I have to assume that a lot is missing because of translation or this is a dry as the Sahara story. Rakel came off as either a nut job or someone with savant level genius with no personal skills. Most of the story was Rakel rambling almost incoherently in my opinion and her debilitating disease never made sense. Then it abruptly ended and I was left dumbstruck.

I was provided with an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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