# Hardcover: 240 pages
# Publisher: Ecco (January 2, 2007)
# Language: English
Vendela Vida's last book "And Now You Can Go", didn't have all that much to write home about, but the writing was so quirky and clever, the characters so unusual and unique that I made a mental to note to hunt down her next book just to treat myself to more Vendila Vida, and I am glad I did!!!
"Let The Northern Lights Erase your Name" borrows its title from a Sami poem, by Mary Ailonieda and it, together with the cover art, effectively captures both the setting as well as the theme of the novel. Most of the book takes place in Lapland, the place where Norway, Finland and Sweden come together aboove the Arctic circle and is the abode of the Sami or indigenous population of Northern Scandanavia. I was excited that Vida chose to set this book in Lapland, because this fabled home of Santa Claus and his reindeer, is an irresitable draw.
THis is a hard book to write a review for because, like with any mystery novel, giving even a little away might be too much..in a nut shell, Clarissa, the protagonist of the novel, was abandoned by her mother in a shopping mall when she was 14, in an excruciating painful way...the two were out Christmas shopping together and when suddenly her mother disappared, leaving a goodbye message with a store clerk (“She said to tell you she got tired of waiting”) leaving Clarissa and her brother who suffers from "Down's Syndrome" to be brought up by the father.
Upon her father's death, Clarissa accidently learns that he wasn't her real father , which takes her on a journey to Lapland in the hope of uncovering her identity, instead, she learns of several more secrets, deceptions and lies...
This book is filled with characters you are going to despise and yet, you are going to want to read more about them...the atmospheric descriptions of Lapland and the Sami people with their reindeer herd, their JOeks ( a personal song that sounds like a yodel) are beautiful and enlightening. I was particularly excited to be given a ringside view of the Ice Hotel...spending a couple of nights at the ice hotel has always been on my list of "must-experience" and after reading about it here I know it has to be done sooner than later! Just make sure you bundle up well and grab yourself a mug of hot chocolate before reading the book because her descriptions of the cold and snow are so vivid, you almost feel the cold artic air as you read.
While secrets and lies are the pervading themes of this book...the author also addresses issues of abandonment, one's quest for one's identity, mothers and daughters, reinventing oneself, communication, or rather the lack of it... this book is a multi-dimensional one and will present a lot of questions as you read, but the good news is that it will answer all of the questions it presents.
If you're looking for something quick and something a little different, give this book a try, you might be happy you did.