Saturday, March 24, 2007

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

(hb; 2007)

From the inside flap:

“On the day of her father’s funeral, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa Iverton discovers that he wasn’t her biological father after all. Her mother disappeared fourteen years earlier, and now Clarissa is alone and a drift. The one person she feels she can trust, her fiancé, Pankaj, has just revealed a terrible and life-changing secret to her. In the cycle of a day, all the truths in Clarissa’s world become myths and rumors, and she is catapulted out of the life she knew.

“She finds her birth certificate, which leads her from New York to Helsinki, and then north of the Arctic Circle, to mystical Lapland, where she believes she’ll meet her real father. There, under the northern lights of a sunless winter, Clarissa comes to know the Sami, the indigenous population, and seeks out a local priest, the one man who may hold the key to her origins.

“Along her travels she meets an elderly Sami healer named Anna Kristine, who has her own secrets, and a handsome young reindeer herder named Henrik, who accompanies Clarissa to a hotel made of ice. There she is confronted with the truth about her mother’s past and finally must make a decision about how – and where – to live the rest of her life.”


Review:

Northern is an offbeat, melancholic and delightful book. What thrilled me the most about Lights is not so much what Vida wrote, but what she didn’t write -- that is not to say that she does not bring this story to life with vivid images and effective understatement. Readers who require their authors to spell everything out for them should probably avoid it; readers who do not need to be spoon-fed their entertainment should check it out.

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