13.7.11

bookpost: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

A woman discovers, after her father's death, that he was not her father. The mother who abandoned the family when she was a teenager has a secret past, and she decides to find out who she really is. That journey takes her to Lapland, in northern Scandinavia, and a whole series of discoveries and shifts in perception.

First of all, it's fun to read a novel set in places where I've spent time. Not only have I been to Lapland and Helsinki, but also Rhinebeck, NY, where the protagonist grew up. The description of Inari is spot-on, and I only spotted one error: she describes a dubbed Italian movie on Finnish TV, and the Finns never dub, only subtitle. But whatever.

I enjoyed this greatly. First of all, it's fun to read a novel set in places where I've spent time. Not only have I been to Lapland and Helsinki, but also Rhinebeck, NY, where the protagonist grew up. Additionally, the characters are well-crafted, and the protagonist's narrative voice is coherent and compelling. The pacing is fantastic -- it's a short novel, and it's a good example of why I prefer short novels. I would describe it as crisp, matching the emotional state of the protagonist. Thematically, it works well, too, explaining why a person would choose to recreate herself and walk away from her past. My only issue was with the ending -- it was a little too clean and happy for the context of the novel -- but otherwise I strongly recommend Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name.

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