How a Nut Turned My Life Upside Down

Age 10

240 pages

148 x 210 mm


Alexa Hennig von Lange, Regina Kehn

How a Nut Turned My Life Upside Down


In a nutshell:

Lisa loves her parents, she really does. If only they weren't always so worried about her. On no account should Lisa go along to the old mansion that is to be made into an orphanage. But that is precisely where Lisa wants to go. A house without any parents – that sounds like freedom! But before she knows what's happening she finds herself in the infirmary of the orphanage. And all because of one nut she shouldn't have touched! Suddenly all Lisa wants to do is go home! She stealthily creeps down the stairs and when she hears voices hides in a cupboard. Then the cupboard door opens and a boy looks at her. A boy looking a lot like her.


Author's comment:

'A house full of children – without parents. And an overprotected, freedom-loving girl. Where can such an explosive mixture lead? What can these children learn from each other? What do they know about life and death? What are their dreams and aims in life? Has all been lost or is it just about to begin? These are the questions I wondered about when I started writing this book. And I was amazed how easy it is to teach each other wisdom by means of wit and the heart. Also when you have just turned twelve.'
(Alexa Hennig von Lange)



Lisa's mother pretends that she was nearly kidnapped when she was a child. Now she lives in fear of her Lisa being abducted. Which, Lisa thinks, is utter rubbish. As a child, her mother was the complete opposite of her, was as cute as cute could be and didn't have hair like cotton wool and huge front teeth. When Lisa finds out that the abandoned mansion that has been empty for so long is to be made into an orphanage, she is almost a little envious of the children. After all, they don't have to battle with their parents. They are free. Lisa rushes off on her bike to take a closer look at the house. She ends up in an incredible garden where everything is at least as lush and wild as in a jungle. She meets the gardener, and when he asks her if she is one of the children shortly coming to live here she can't help but say she is and then goes on to tell the nice gardener a proper made-up story – that her parents have been kidnapped, never to be heard or seen of again. Lukas, the gardener, takes Lisa back to his home, where he and his wife do all they can to make her feel at home. Then he offers her a nut – and the nut allergy Lisa always thought was one of her mother's inventions, turns out to be extremely true. Lisa has an allergic shock and finds herself in the orphanage infirmary. How on earth is she to get away from here? No one will believe that she doesn't belong here. She stealthily creeps down the stairs and when she hears voices hides in a cupboard. Then the cupboard door opens and a boy looks at her. A boy looking disarmingly like her.

With wit and unconventional methods this boy and his best friend help Lisa escape from the orphanage. Every time they see each other, the friendship between the two boys and Lisa becomes closer and before long keeps the entire orphanage in suspense. In the course of events, Lisa not only gets to know a wide variety of children with moving fates but also discovers what it means to grow up without parents. She tries to find out who Lasse really is. Where has this boy come from? Why does he look so like her? Can this be a coincidence? During her investigations, Lisa finally makes an incredible discovery! It was not her mother who was almost kidnapped as a little girl! It was Lisa's twin brother! Just after their birth he mysteriously disappeared from the hospital! In the end, Lisa's parents and Lasse meet up. In one magic moment the members of the ruptured family recognise each other and, overwhelmed, fall into one another's arms. Lisa suddenly has a brother and she is no longer alone in this house in the pensioners' paradise. Her life has changed in a way she never expected it would. Her parents' overprotection gives way to the great miracle of them finding their son again – as a result of Lisa's courage and urge for freedom!


  • Author awarded the German Youth Literature Prize in 2002
  • Adventurous and mystifying story of a family and her secret
  • Powerful and convincing young female character with a likeable narrative voice