‘Scenes From the Heart’: Backstory of 16-Year-Old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

The Swedish original Scener ur hjärtat was released in August 2018 with Greta Thunberg’s mother on the cover, an opera singer who represented Sweden at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. Back then, Malena Ernman was the family celebrity.

Greta’s name and picture may grace the book cover of the newly released German edition — which also lists her parents’ and sister’s names — but for the most part, Scenes from the Heart was written by her mother.

The book, to be released later this year in English, tells the world how Greta became who she is today, which might interest many people in view of her fame. Just bear in mind that it was put to paper before the family appeared in the public eye.

Abyss on the edge of happiness

Since Greta started her school strikes “a lot has changed both for Greta and for our family,” Malena Ernman wrote in the foreword to the German edition adding that on some days, “it almost seems like a dream.” Those changes will be detailed in her next book, she writes.

Also read: While Adults Squabble Over Climate Change, Teens are Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

Scenes from the heart is about Malena Ernman’s life with her husband Svante Thunberg and her two daughters, Greta and Beata. It is about the family’s early years when her husband and children toured with her across Europe, about the joy of being parents and the crisis that struck when Greta suddenly stopped eating in the fifth grade.

Malena Ernman describes scenes and fears that many parents might secretly harbour in their hearts. She allows the reader a glimpse of the life of a family that is suddenly plunged into turmoil.

Deficit or strength?

Greta was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, her younger sister Beata turned out to have an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). At some point, the situation in the family stabilised, but there was one issue they could not escape, and that was climate change.

Greta had heard about it at school one day and was deeply shocked. Consumed by the issue and out to make a difference, she managed to raise awareness within her family, and later, with people worldwide. Greta became famous.

Also read: ‘Don’t Be a Fossil Fool’: Hundreds Skip School to Protest Climate Change in Delhi

She attributes her persistence to Asperger’s syndrome. Without Asperger, none of this would have been possible, she told Germany’s ZDF TV broadcaster in February. “I would simply have continued to live and think like everyone else,” she said, adding that she sees the world from a different perspective — black and white. That doesn’t necessarily make it more radical, she says, but it definitely makes it more realistic.

That led her mother to conclude, in the book, that Asperger and ADHD as such are “not a handicap” as much as a “superpower.” Readers may not agree with the choice of words or the conclusions Malena Ernman draws at some points in the book.

But there is no doubt that Greta’s clear voice is a strength.

This article was originally published on Deutsche Welle. You can read the original here.

Featured image credit: Reuters