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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Northern Lights’ sheds light on Finland and family

    Northern Lights sheds light on Finland and family

    Vendela Vida’s new novel, “”Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name,”” follows a recently orphaned young woman as she travels to Finland in search of her family. The elements of Finnish culture, including hard drinking, cold weather, reindeer herding and, of course, the northern lights, make the novel more interesting without undermining the importance of the plot.

    The plot itself is rather bleak and harrowing. It chronicles 29-year-old Clarissa from her father’s death through her discovery that he was not her real father and then on her adventure to Finland to find her real father. Clarissa is believable as an amateur sleuth, using the hints she is given as you or I might. The author does not let coincidence factor into Clarissa’s hunt for her father as a less talented writer might do.

    Throughout the novel, Clarissa’s family history is revealed, showing a mentally disabled brother and a mother who disappeared when they were children. Therefore, the major characteristic of Clarissa is loneliness, which is well mirrored by her solo trip to icy Finland.

    While in Finland, Clarissa’s experiences are not those of the average tourist. She befriends and stays with the Sami, who are indigenous herding folk from the north of Scandinavia. Their plight and relationship with modern Finland makes an interesting comparison to the American Indian history that most of us are more familiar with.

    The setting of “”Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name”” adds another dimension, allowing the author a chance to incorporate beautiful scenery and a little something out of the ordinary.

    Vida’s novel is also pleasing in the clear and concise prose used. A little short as novels go, with just over two hundred pages, the book gets to the plot early and moves with a good pace throughout. Vida does not skimp on description; she simply describes the details in half the space of other authors.

    This novel has everything necessary to keep the reader enthralled until the end. A fast-moving plot, complete with interesting location and an emotionally engaging protagonist, all tie together well. The only criticism would be that Clarissa sees herself as rather too much of a victim to be likable. But with the family history she discloses, this too is forgivable.

    “”Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name”” is a gripping page-turner, guaranteed to spark your curiosity and hold your interest from start to Finnish.

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