Monday, March 05, 2007

Book Review: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name *Click here to request this book* Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, by Vendela Vida
[Fiction] Clarissa Iverton's father has just died, and now she is all alone in the world, save for her mentally retarded brother, and her fiance, about whom she seems rather unenthusiastic. Her unstable mother walked out when Clarissa was fourteen, and she hasn't been heard from since. While going through her father's belongings, Clarissa finds her birth certificate, and surprise!-- her father's name is not on it. As her fiance has apparently known all along (the two have known each other since childhood), Clarissa's mother was married before, to a native of Lapland. Clarissa takes off within days (and without telling anyone) to search for her real father. As Clarissa travels, her character is revealed to us-- yes, she is smart, sassy, and sarcastic, but also extremely immature. After a long, bitterly cold, and confusing search, she discovers the truth about her origins, and even confronts her long-lost mother. Without giving away too much of the plot, the moral of this story seems to be that we cannot escape our past, and are doomed to repeat it. Instead of growing through her pain, Clarissa becomes more and more like her mother, who she loathes. I can't imagine the rationale behind ending the story this way, unless it is supposed to be a sort of feminist outcry, showing how violence against women ruins the world. The book is well-written, and a quick read at 226 pages, but it left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. It depressed me, and made me wonder if the author had some sort of long-buried rage similar to the main character's which caused her to write this book (if that were true it would depress me even more!). By the way, Vida is married to author Dave Eggers. --Vicky

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