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1 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name

by

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name Cover

ISBN13: 9780060828370
ISBN10: 0060828374
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Let me say first that I read this book because of the title. Much like buying a book for its cover, I was drawn in by the possibility that this poetic directive would yield a satisfying story. I was not disappointed; there's a lot to appreciate here. Vida's style is spare, but graceful and evocative, almost cinematic. The narrator is a wry observer of herself who often does exactly what she ought not do. The sometimes surreal depictions of Lapland lend the story the feel of a fairy tale — a grim, dark, snowy fairy tale. It's a beautiful, haunting story.
Recommended by Alexis S., Powells.com

Vendela Vida's writing surprised me. I hadn't read anything by her before, and though her earlier books have garnered blurbs from writers I admire, being married to Dave Eggers is not a plus in my opinion. That said, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name was a moving story. After her dad's sudden death, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa is faced with the shocking news that he wasn't really her biological father. That topped with the fact that she was abadoned by her mother at the age of fourteen, sets her off on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Lapland in search of herself and her roots. Of course, things don't unfold as she expects, and the impractical trip turns occasionally ridiculous. Though important insights and information fall into Clarissa's lap rather easily, I still enjoyed Vida's writing and her character's determination to find out where she came from and why her mother left, and the ending was a fitting way to wrap up the story without seeming trite.
Recommended by Brodie, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

On the day of her father's funeral, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa Iverton discovers that he wasn't her biological father after all. Her mother disappeared fourteen years earlier, and now Clarissa is alone and adrift. The one person she feels she can trust, her fiancé, Pankaj, has just revealed a terrible and life-changing secret to her. In the cycle of a day, all the truths in Clarissa's world become myths and rumors, and she is catapulted out of the life she knew.

She finds her birth certificate, which leads her from New York to Helsinki, and then north of the Arctic Circle, to mystical Lapland, where she believes she'll meet her real father. There, under the northern lights of a sunless winter, Clarissa comes to know the Sami, the indigenous population, and seeks out a local priest, the one man who may hold the key to her origins. Along her travels she meets an elderly Sami healer named Anna Kristine, who has her own secrets, and a handsome young reindeer herder named Henrik, who accompanies Clarissa to a hotel made of ice. There she is confronted with the truth about her mother's past and finally must make a decision about how — and where — to live the rest of her life.

Joan Didion said of Vendela Vida's last book: "And Now You Can Go is so fast, so mesmerizing to read, and so accomplished that it's hard to think of it as a first novel, which it is. Vendela Vida has promise to spare." With Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, Vida more than lives up to that promise as she gives us a remarkable protagonist who is both fierce and funny, and an unforgettable literary thriller that questions whether we can ever truly know where we've come from — and if it is possible to escape our pasts.

Review:

"Believer co-editor Vida again explores violence, its aftermath and the curative powers of travel in her bleak second novel. (Her debut, 2003's And Now You Can Go, sent a young woman to the Philippines after a traumatic event.) But this time readers are nearly a hundred pages in before the long-ago physical violence is revealed. Clarissa, home after her father's funeral, finds herself deeply alone. Her developmentally disabled brother has never spoken, and her mother walked out on them 14 years before. Digging through family papers, she finds her birth certificate, which lists a stranger as her father. The hunt for him and the resumption of a search for her mother lead Clarissa to far northern Europe, where the days are short, the reindeer are plentiful and her mother had once felt 'connected.' Clarissa's travels in her mother's steps seeking that connection, stumbling, finding it and finally severing it are bleak. Vida's fan base will welcome this novel, and the twin questions of what Clarissa's amateur sleuthing will turn up and how each discovery will affect her might draw a few new readers through this slim, austere work." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Believer co-editor Vida again explores violence, its aftermath and the curative powers of travel in her bleak second novel. (Her debut, 2003's And Now You Can Go, sent a young woman to the Philippines after a traumatic event.) But this time readers are nearly a hundred pages in before the long-ago physical violence is revealed. Clarissa, home after her father's funeral, finds herself deeply alone. Her developmentally disabled brother has never spoken, and her mother walked out on them 14 years before. Digging through family papers, she finds her birth certificate, which lists a stranger as her father. The hunt for him — and the resumption of a search for her mother — lead Clarissa to far northern Europe, where the days are short, the reindeer are plentiful and her mother had once felt 'connected.' Clarissa's travels in her mother's steps — seeking that connection, stumbling, finding it and finally severing it — are bleak. Vida's fan base will welcome this novel, and the twin questions of what Clarissa's amateur sleuthing will turn up and how each discovery will affect her might draw a few new readers through this slim, austere work." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Vendela Vida has borrowed the title of her second novel from a poem by Marry Somby, a member of one of Europe's largest indigenous groups, the Sami, who settled in Lapland more than 4,000 years ago. Populating the northern regions of the Scandinavian peninsula from Norway to Russia, the Sami speak 10 languages that include about 400 words for reindeer (their traditional livelihood) and one word that... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A] dark whimsy suffuses the whole book and accounts for much of its peculiarly biting charm. You've seen it before, in movies like Little Miss Sunshine or The Royal Tenenbaums and in books like — well, maybe there aren't any other books that walk this very fine line between high-camp comedy and the lyrical seriousness that Vida's title portends." New York Times

Review:

"Vida gives the icy landscape an eerie, forbidding beauty, and her writing has moments of great emotional acuity." New Yorker

Review:

"Novels about unhappy young people who seek to escape their dysfunctional families and find a new identity are almost a genre to themselves, but the vivid scenes of Lapland, with its reindeer, northern lights, and Ice Hotel, give this novel a unique twist." Library Journal

Review:

"A luminescent and evocative tale of grief, free of the standard cliches." Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Vendela Vida graduated from Middlebury College and received her MFA at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Jane, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

LakeErieLisa, January 2, 2011 (view all comments by LakeErieLisa)
This is a wonderfully unique novel: a unique and exotic setting - Lapland, a unique story line - a quest combined with a mystery, and compelling literary writing. Sure to satisfy readers with the highest possible standards.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
mgreiner1, July 20, 2010 (view all comments by mgreiner1)
I loved this book, as I greatly enjoy learning about new cultures. Reading the book often felt like slogging through deep snow, a metaphor for depression, but isn't that part of the Scandinavian mindset?
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Douglas Gordy, January 17, 2008 (view all comments by Douglas Gordy)
This was an intriguing and very worthwhile read, fast paced and ultimately moving, allowing entry into a world most of us know nothing about (the native Sami population of Lapland). However, the main character is so thoroughly unlikeable throughout the first half of the book, I almost gave up on it ... so be prepared to loather her, before you love her....
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(13 of 24 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060828370
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Vida, Vendela
Author:
by Vendela Vida
Publisher:
Ecco
Subject:
General
Subject:
Identity (psychology)
Subject:
Illegitimate children
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20070102
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
9.25 x 7.375 in 39.36 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Ecco - English 9780060828370 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Let me say first that I read this book because of the title. Much like buying a book for its cover, I was drawn in by the possibility that this poetic directive would yield a satisfying story. I was not disappointed; there's a lot to appreciate here. Vida's style is spare, but graceful and evocative, almost cinematic. The narrator is a wry observer of herself who often does exactly what she ought not do. The sometimes surreal depictions of Lapland lend the story the feel of a fairy tale — a grim, dark, snowy fairy tale. It's a beautiful, haunting story.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Vendela Vida's writing surprised me. I hadn't read anything by her before, and though her earlier books have garnered blurbs from writers I admire, being married to Dave Eggers is not a plus in my opinion. That said, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name was a moving story. After her dad's sudden death, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa is faced with the shocking news that he wasn't really her biological father. That topped with the fact that she was abadoned by her mother at the age of fourteen, sets her off on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Lapland in search of herself and her roots. Of course, things don't unfold as she expects, and the impractical trip turns occasionally ridiculous. Though important insights and information fall into Clarissa's lap rather easily, I still enjoyed Vida's writing and her character's determination to find out where she came from and why her mother left, and the ending was a fitting way to wrap up the story without seeming trite.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Believer co-editor Vida again explores violence, its aftermath and the curative powers of travel in her bleak second novel. (Her debut, 2003's And Now You Can Go, sent a young woman to the Philippines after a traumatic event.) But this time readers are nearly a hundred pages in before the long-ago physical violence is revealed. Clarissa, home after her father's funeral, finds herself deeply alone. Her developmentally disabled brother has never spoken, and her mother walked out on them 14 years before. Digging through family papers, she finds her birth certificate, which lists a stranger as her father. The hunt for him and the resumption of a search for her mother lead Clarissa to far northern Europe, where the days are short, the reindeer are plentiful and her mother had once felt 'connected.' Clarissa's travels in her mother's steps seeking that connection, stumbling, finding it and finally severing it are bleak. Vida's fan base will welcome this novel, and the twin questions of what Clarissa's amateur sleuthing will turn up and how each discovery will affect her might draw a few new readers through this slim, austere work." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Believer co-editor Vida again explores violence, its aftermath and the curative powers of travel in her bleak second novel. (Her debut, 2003's And Now You Can Go, sent a young woman to the Philippines after a traumatic event.) But this time readers are nearly a hundred pages in before the long-ago physical violence is revealed. Clarissa, home after her father's funeral, finds herself deeply alone. Her developmentally disabled brother has never spoken, and her mother walked out on them 14 years before. Digging through family papers, she finds her birth certificate, which lists a stranger as her father. The hunt for him — and the resumption of a search for her mother — lead Clarissa to far northern Europe, where the days are short, the reindeer are plentiful and her mother had once felt 'connected.' Clarissa's travels in her mother's steps — seeking that connection, stumbling, finding it and finally severing it — are bleak. Vida's fan base will welcome this novel, and the twin questions of what Clarissa's amateur sleuthing will turn up and how each discovery will affect her might draw a few new readers through this slim, austere work." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] dark whimsy suffuses the whole book and accounts for much of its peculiarly biting charm. You've seen it before, in movies like Little Miss Sunshine or The Royal Tenenbaums and in books like — well, maybe there aren't any other books that walk this very fine line between high-camp comedy and the lyrical seriousness that Vida's title portends."
"Review" by , "Vida gives the icy landscape an eerie, forbidding beauty, and her writing has moments of great emotional acuity."
"Review" by , "Novels about unhappy young people who seek to escape their dysfunctional families and find a new identity are almost a genre to themselves, but the vivid scenes of Lapland, with its reindeer, northern lights, and Ice Hotel, give this novel a unique twist."
"Review" by , "A luminescent and evocative tale of grief, free of the standard cliches."
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