Monday, February 25, 2008

Identity Quest in Lapland

"Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name" was a title that caught my Scandinavian eyes. It's a brief contemporary novel, a taut, terse story of Clarissa, a young woman who discovers at her father's funeral that he was not her biological father. Her mother disappeared years earlier. Clarissa travels to Lapland in remote northern Finland in search her father, a Sami priest, to learn more about her family and identity. What and who she encounters comprises the plot. Vendela Vida, the author, writes in a propulsive "tight" style that pushes you forward in this rather spare but stirring book. Some may find it bleak, while I found it compelling. She and husband Dave Eggers are gifted writers who have contributed much to writing projects for youth in San Francisco. It was a pleasure to discover and read her work.

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