Review: Our House is On Fire by Malena and Beata Ernman, Svante and Greta Thunberg


Title: Our House is On Fire: Scenes of a Family and Planet in Crisis

Author: Malena Ernman, Beata Ernman, Svante Thunberg, Greta Thunberg

Published: March 5th 2020, Allen Lane

Read: March 2020 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Au


My Thoughts:

Our House Is On Fire was first published in August 2018, a few days before Greta Thunberg sat down outside the Swedish Parliament and began a solitary school strike to bring attention to the global climate crisis. However as a reprint, this particular edition includes an addendum of sorts.

It’s written with the cooperation of the entire family, Greta, her younger sister, Beata, and their father, Svante, but told through their mother’s, Marlena, perspective.

“We had to write about this because we are among those who got help. We got lucky and sometimes I think that we are going to come out of this strengthened. Strengthened and whole.”

The book has a dual focus, as the subtitle suggests. It explores the family’s struggle when first Greta, and then Beata are diagnosed with a raft of neurodevelopmental disorders, Asperger’s- a high functioning form of autism, and OCD – obsessive-compulsive disorder, among them. As the family attempts to reorder their lives, they become more attuned to the disorder of the wider world, which is highlighted by a combination of anecdotes, commentary, and statistics on a variety of issues from the climate crisis to #metoo.

It’s important to know that Greta is largely a bit player in this book, Marlena’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences dominate. She writes of her role as a mother, a wife, and as a successful opera singer, she shares her struggle to advocate for her daughters wellbeing, and her own. Marlena is as passionate as her daughter about the climate crisis, but also social injustice, and she isn’t shy about demanding change.

The book’s presentation is somewhat fragmented, with a nonlinear narrative, but I found I didn’t mind that. The tone can occasionally be a little strident, but to be fair it’s no less than we deserve.

No matter what conclusions you draw about the members of the Thunberg/Ernman family the message is important. Our House Is On Fire is a challenge to examine our way of life, to support and encourage change that benefits humanity. It is a call to arms, but not a ‘how-to’ manual. It’s a warning but also reason to hope.

“We still have a chance to put everything right, and there is nothing we as people can’t achieve, if only we want to.”


Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

3 thoughts on “Review: Our House is On Fire by Malena and Beata Ernman, Svante and Greta Thunberg

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