Cathrine Sandmæl - Selected Title Author

We are happy to present our selected title author Cathrine Sandmæl. She has written and illustrated Girls (original title: Jenter). The book is one of NORLA’s Selected Titles of the spring 2024.

Cathrine Sandmæl. Foto: Fartein Rudjord/NORLA

What is your book about?

My book is a “coming of age” story that takes place in 2006. In it, we meet Eli, a 15-year-old girl who’s recently changed schools. She feels like she doesn’t quite fit in with the other girls in her class but makes friends in another class who share the same interests as her: manga and anime. They meet during recess, when they loan each other manga and talk about the newest series they like. Eli hasn’t ever really thought much about romance or sex before, but some of her new friends start talking about a “yaoi” series (a kind of Japanese comic with homoerotic plots), and she starts getting a bit curious. At a birthday party, Eli jokingly kisses one of her friends and is confronted with questions about her own sexuality and what this kiss really means for their friendship. The book is about friendship, love, and what it was like growing up queer and nerdy in the early 2000s.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired by how I myself discovered I was queer as a nerdy teenage girl in the early 2000s. A lot of my motivation for making this book was wanting to tell a story that was reasonably true to my own experience of having a crush for the very first time. I also had a nerdy group of friends who liked manga and anime, and a lot of us also turned out to be queer – without us necessarily knowing that when we first started hanging out together! I was also inspired by the camaraderie this very group of friends had back in middle school. We might’ve occasionally been bullied by people who thought we were weird, but it didn’t matter to us because we had each other. In many ways, this book is somewhat dedicated to the group of friends I had at that time. Perhaps most importantly, I wanted to tell a story about young nerds who happened to be girls – something I realize I’ve seen very little of in popular media.

Who is this book for?

The book is primarily intended for ages 9-12, but it can certainly be read by teenagers and adults as well. I hope parts of the book can be read by young people experiencing their first crushes. Maybe they’re queer and can relate a bit to Eli’s experiences. I’ve also gotten feedback from adults who also found it enjoyable to read a book with so many references from the 2000s.

Read more

See full presentation of the book here

See all NORLA’s Selected Titles for the spring 2024 here