What rock have I been hiding under that I hadn t heard of Vendela Vida until recently I have a few GR friends to thank for bringing this author to my attention And I m very grateful I just finished Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, and definitely plan to read Vida s other books in 2016 Clarissa s mother abandoned her family when Clarissa was 14 At the beginning of the book, Clarissa is 30 and the man she had thought was her father dies, after which she finds out that he wasn t in fac What rock have I been hiding under that I hadn t heard of Vendela Vida until recently I have a few GR friends to thank for bringing this author to my attention And I m very grateful I just finished Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, and definitely plan to read Vida s other books in 2016 Clarissa s mother abandoned her family when Clarissa was 14 At the beginning of the book, Clarissa is 30 and the man she had thought was her father dies, after which she finds out that he wasn t in fact her father She then goes on a quest to Lapland, Finland, to figure out who her father is I won t sayabout the story because I don t want to give away any spoilers and in any event the plot is really besides the point Through sparse prose, Vida conveys a powerful sense of character, place and feeling Clarissa, her background and what she finds in Finland defy convention and stereotypes, but they evoke recognizable emotional pain and human complexity Dark with an odd hopeful end Well worth reading Again, thank you to Julie and other GR friends for helping me discover Vida Like The Diver s Clothes Lie Empty, this is a quest novel about abandoning who you are or have been and eventually free falling into a new life It s tautly written and, in a way, as icy as the Lapland terrain where much of it takes place It s a good story I was never bored Nor was I emotionally swept away Nevertheless I enjoyed the book. It is sometimes very hard to explain why a book affects one the way it does This was such a perfect little book, quiet and unassuming ,but an in depth study of a young woman s mind when she finds out that everything she believes in, is not the truth Clarissa s mother abandoned her, her father and mentally challenged brother, when she was fourteen After her father dies she makes the shocking discovery that he was not her real father, that her mother had been married before to a Sami priest He It is sometimes very hard to explain why a book affects one the way it does This was such a perfect little book, quiet and unassuming ,but an in depth study of a young woman s mind when she finds out that everything she believes in, is not the truth Clarissa s mother abandoned her, her father and mentally challenged brother, when she was fourteen After her father dies she makes the shocking discovery that he was not her real father, that her mother had been married before to a Sami priest Her fiance apparently knew the truth and kept it from her as well Reeling from a double betrayal, she sets out in an attempt to find answers.Her travels take her to Lapland, the indigenous Sami people, reindeer herders with a very distinctive look Of course I had to google to find pictures and Wiki forinformation on the Sami Google and Wiki, sounds almost like a dance Even though this is an exotic locale, not many descriptions are to be found, only those that Clarissa sees, since most of the action is her thoughts, her feelings and her impressions We journey with her to the ice hotel and it is here that we finally get answers along with Clarissa Now that she has closed off her past, the only available option is for her to make a new future I liked the short paragraphs, the straightforward writing, and seeing things just from Clarissa s view Not that I agreed with everything she did, but I did understand why she felt that way The writing is wonderful, and I liked that it had a different kind of ending Not happily ever after, all answers as she wanted them, but a different future that she makes, one that allows her to move forward When Clarissa was going through papers after her father died, she found a copy of her birth certificate showing that he was not her birth father Her mother had walked out the door when Clarissa was a teenager, leaving without a trace She felt that the important people in her life had not told her the truth Clarissa wanted to know her true identity and she traveled to Lapland to search for her birth father.In northern Norway she unearthed some of the secrets that had been hidden from her She When Clarissa was going through papers after her father died, she found a copy of her birth certificate showing that he was not her birth father Her mother had walked out the door when Clarissa was a teenager, leaving without a trace She felt that the important people in her life had not told her the truth Clarissa wanted to know her true identity and she traveled to Lapland to search for her birth father.In northern Norway she unearthed some of the secrets that had been hidden from her She lived with the indigenous Sami with a family that herded reindeer Clarissa found some surprising things about her past events that had haunted her troubled mother An ancient Sami healer helped her make connections to her mother s past After learning the truth, Clarissa has to decide if she is going to identify herself by her past, or move on and just look toward her future.Although the book had some heavy themes, it also had some humorous moments The winter setting in Lapland was cold and dark But it was also magical, especially the Ice Hotel and the Northern Lights I enjoyed Vendela Vida s writing, and would like to readof her books On the day of her father s funeral, twenty eight year old Clarissa Iver ton discovers that he wasn t her biological father after all Her mother disappeared fourteen years earlier, and her fianc has just revealed a life changing secret to her Alone and adrift, Clarissa travels to mystical Lapland, where she believes she ll meet her real father There, at a hotel made of ice, Clarissa is confronted with the truth about her mother s his tory, and must make a decision about how and where to live the rest of her life Let the Northern Lights Erase Your NameHow far will you to go to try to unravel family secrets that have profoundly affected your life Travel across continents Traverse a few times zones Brave indomitable weather Go all the way to the end of the world That last sentence doesn t seem too farfetched to describe Lapland, the Scandinavian region where Finland, Norway and Sweden merge This is the place, which is located above the Arctic Circle that serves as the main setting for this beautifully Let the Northern Lights Erase Your NameHow far will you to go to try to unravel family secrets that have profoundly affected your life Travel across continents Traverse a few times zones Brave indomitable weather Go all the way to the end of the world That last sentence doesn t seem too farfetched to describe Lapland, the Scandinavian region where Finland, Norway and Sweden merge This is the place, which is located above the Arctic Circle that serves as the main setting for this beautifully crafted novel.With its natural beauty and fable like atmosphere there s a freaking ice hotel featured in this story people , the place has an otherworldly aura that at times feel eerie and at others magical and transcendent Frequently in literature a journey, whether described in the literal or spiritual sense, is used as a metaphor that might represent a process a physical travel or an undertaking discovering a life s calling or pursuing a higher level of spiritual enlightenment for example Northern lights Aurora Borealis Lapland, FinlandFor Clarissa Iverton, the 28 year old protagonist of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, that journey is a process that represents her search for identity and familial origins, her specific goal is to learn the truth about her mother s mysterious past.As the novel begins, Clarissa has just landed at the Helsinki airport After the death of the man she always thought of as her father, she discovers that the person named in her birth certificate as her biological father is actually Eero Valkeap , a Sami priest who lives in Finnish Lapland and who unknown to her, was her mother s first husband.Clarissa s mother disappeared when she was only 14 years old, so she s unable to talk to the only person that probably has all the answers she craves after learning of this stunning development For the young Clarissa the way her mother vanished was particularly traumatic, during an afternoon when the two of them are Christmas shopping, Olivia leaves a cold goodbye message with a store clerkShe said to tell you she got tired of waitingAfter Clarissa discovers that her childhood friend, now fianc Pankaj, was privy to her parent s secret, she decides to walk way from the conveniences of her modern life in Manhattan to track Eero and find out who she really is Vendela Vida The AuthorAs readers sometimes we find ourselves surprised by very peculiar coincidences After never hearing of The Samis , somehow I found them mentioned in the last two novels I ve read.In The Portable Veblen, a novel that also has an interesting Norwegian connection, Dr Paul Vreeland, one of the main protagonists ends up living amongthe Sami people of Norway, one of the most peaceful people of the planet.So I took this serendipitous development to learn a little bit about these captivating tribes.The Samis, are the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia They settled in Laplandthan 4,000 years ago They populated the northern regions of the Scandinavian peninsula from Norway to Russia, speak 10 languages that include about 400 words for reindeer their traditional livelihood and at least one word that has found its way into English parlance Tundra.Perhaps because this is a very short novel, the story of the Samis is explored somehow superficially and serves mainly as a device to advance the novel s narrative Still during the time Clarissa lives among the native people, she will experience some peculiar adventures, from a visit to an Ice Hotel, to drinking reindeer blood which she saysTastes like electricity , to a snowmobile trip across the tundra The Jukkasjarvi Ice hotel in SwedenAfter a very long journey that includes a somehow depressing but eventful sexual encounter with a virtual stranger, Clarissa arrives in Inari and is able to locate Eero The priest confirms that in fact he was her mother s first husband but the plot only thickens after this Eventually Clarissa will also get to know Anna Kristine, an elderly Sami healer who has her own secrets as well as a Henrik, an amiable reindeer herder who quickly becomes a reliable ally As she continues to getclues to help unravel the mystery, Inari will be only the first of several places Clarissa will visit before she gets to know the truth And as she travels further north, her state of mind and overall mood will progressively match the darker landscape that surrounds her.This novel certainly has an overall dour, gloomy tone but I also enjoyed Vida s sardonic sense of humor.During one scene while visiting Eero, he decides to show off his neighborhood Christmas s decorations Every house they see is displaying white Christmas lights,Everyone is very upset with that house,he tells Clarissa, pointing to the one house with blue lights around its front doorThose people really took it too farAlthough the ending felt a little hasten and I was left longing for adetailed conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric novel Clarissa s journey is about her search for identity but it s also about her ability to put her past behind and become a new person, capable of achieving happiness and fulfillment Northern Lights Aurora Borealis in Rovaniemi, FinlandSo I loved this novel, from it s title borrowed from a poem by Marry Ailonieida Somby, a member of one of the Sami tribes its caustic humor and its description of Lapland s breathtaking wilderness, a landscape that seem to reflect the complex emotional state of its protagonist.I read Vida s The Diver s Clothes Lie Empty a while ago, and found it if anything evenengaging than Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name I look forward to reading her other works of fiction Perfect polar vortex reading No need to travel to Lapland for constant flurries and ice A spare, brittle, quick read Lots of white space One of those books with two pages on either side of a standalone chapter title page, so at the end of every chapter you re shot ahead five pages, which makes it seem longer and quicker turning blank pages maybe also creates some space in a reader s brain My particular brain has been suffering some freeze lately Unable to make it through a few dense nov Perfect polar vortex reading No need to travel to Lapland for constant flurries and ice A spare, brittle, quick read Lots of white space One of those books with two pages on either side of a standalone chapter title page, so at the end of every chapter you re shot ahead five pages, which makes it seem longer and quicker turning blank pages maybe also creates some space in a reader s brain My particular brain has been suffering some freeze lately Unable to make it through a few dense novels I ve started recently thanks to impatient skim impulse disorder and a recurring case of the zone outs Maybe binging on too much Breaking Bad on Netflix Maybe generally distracted by the upcoming NBA draft only four months off Maybe brain is frozen and reading circulation constricted by long johns Regardless, minor seasonal affective anhedonia these days synched with this one s damaged narrator, and generally I enjoyed reading this even if I wasn t always on its side Felt to me for the most part like a young adult novel, which is not my bag, which isn t this novel s fault Excessive similes early on seemed like the author, not the narrator, was trying too hard to win the reader over to the powers of her perception Early on, but not throughout, there s a good deal of associative sensory perception eg, clothes after long airplane travel smell vaguely of Band Aids , suggestive literary flourishes that characterize but for me at least seem to insufficiently stand in for explicit insight Felt like critiques received from early draft readers were integrated as narrator s awareness of scenes shortcomings can t find specific examples but I mean comments along the lines of How obvious inserted after a line of dialogue The author s husband has traveled to Africa What is the What and the Middle East A Hologram for the King to write his novels similarly it seems like this one benefited from travel to the Finnish Arctic in the interview at the end she says she traveled to the setting a few times , which is cool, sure, but local color wasn t enough to suspend my disbelief Thanks to formal choices I was too aware throughout that I was reading contemporary literary fiction therefore violence in the narrator s past and her mother s past, particularly their parallel, seemed included by the author, imposed upon the characters instead of something real for them I enjoyed the sly, slow burn, quiet humor, and I liked how low gear narrative drive reinforced the book s frozen atmosphere but I think I wanted some different textures or densities maybe Anyway, glad I read it but not sure how much I ll remember it As our poet friend Percy Bysshe once said, If winter comes can spring be far behind Here s to the inevitable thaw Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name is kind of a cold climate twin of The Diver s Clothes Lie Empty In both books, a heroine learns a dramatic family secret In both books, learning the secret causes her to set off alone for distant locales without letting anyone know where she s going In both books, Vendela Vida takes a location I ve never been to and makes me never want to go there ever.However, as with actual twins, there are a few differences between the novels In Diver s Clothes, we Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name is kind of a cold climate twin of The Diver s Clothes Lie Empty In both books, a heroine learns a dramatic family secret In both books, learning the secret causes her to set off alone for distant locales without letting anyone know where she s going In both books, Vendela Vida takes a location I ve never been to and makes me never want to go there ever.However, as with actual twins, there are a few differences between the novels In Diver s Clothes, we don t find out the secret until late in the novel in Northern Lights we learn the secret in the beginning, at the same time the narrator does In Diver s Clothes the narrator s identity keeps shifting in Northern Lights it s another character s identity that keeps shifting although every time that character s identity shifts, it has an impact on the narrator s identity as well Identity, identity, identity Vendela Vida wants to know Who are we when we realize that nothing is the way we thought it was I m not sure Vendela Vida actually has the answer to this question, but she sure knows how to make the asking of it entertaining Her books have a unique page turning quality despite their heavy subject matter I think it s because, frankly, she doesn t get bogged down in talking about feelings This has caused some to accuse her books or heroines of being cold and unfeeling, but I don t agree Vida tells us what happens, and in the telling, we can see exactly how the characters feel There s something organic about it We re not forced to any kind of conclusions, but Vida is so skilled we usually arrive at the right ones anyway My understanding is that the other two novels she s written are in exactly the same vein as the two I ve mentioned here If that s the case, sign me up My preoccupations and Vida s are the same I wanted to like this book, but it never quite hooked me emotionally At the same time, it was easy to lose myself in it, and a quick, interesting read A lot of points felt intentionally unresolved, which bugged me some I felt sorry for all the characters that Clarissa ditched on her literal metaphorical journey The sense of place was great, and the characters were often compelling except, sometimes, Clarissa herself But the language felt a little too self consciously almost cute sometimes I wanted to like this book, but it never quite hooked me emotionally At the same time, it was easy to lose myself in it, and a quick, interesting read A lot of points felt intentionally unresolved, which bugged me some I felt sorry for all the characters that Clarissa ditched on her literal metaphorical journey The sense of place was great, and the characters were often compelling except, sometimes, Clarissa herself But the language felt a little too self consciously almost cute sometimes cute is not the right word, but the closest I can come Things like, I pulled out two loud ticking alarm clocks I d come across when furtively packing, and held one clock up to each ear All I could hear was time Part of me wants to like that, but really only if Clarissa then makes fun of herself for thinking it Not if she just ends the moment there Overall, though, I did like it and I wouldn t discourage anyone from giving it a try if it sounds interesting I m just not going to run around raving about it Despite the blurb, this wasabout the mother than the father and hence it left me infuriated and wrecked Damaged people having children and damaging them in turn It s fairly familiar literary terrain, and Vida writes about it in a detached way, so I was mainly along for the ride to Lapland, not particularly expecting an emotional punch to the gut, but the final quarter did me in.