Vendela Vida’s Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name is the story of young woman named Clarissa. She is on a quest to the Lapland, the section of land where Sweden, Finland, and Norway meet. There, she hopes to find her real father. The father who had actually raised her had now died and upon sifting through his things, Clarissa discovered the truth on her birth certificate. Her wanderings lead her to places and people she’s never known before, yet they all feel her face is a reminder of someone else.
The story is interesting–addicting even. Written in from the protagonist’s point of view, Clarissa looks back on her complicated childhood with a mother with more secrets than she knew. She recalls the day her mother went missing and makes pointed statements that cut to the bone of how hurt this young girl was.
While I did find the story to be enthralling, I had to steel myself against hating the mother. Not enough of the text allowed me to forgive her for her actions. In addition, a change happens to Clarissa that I didn’t feel was necessary. I don’t want to divulge anymore and ruin the story.
However, when I finished the novel and I read the acknowledgements, Vida ended with the following lines:
“To Galen Strawson, whose essay ‘Against Narrativity’ published in Ratio, made me curious about the kind of person who would see their past as unconnected to their present. In trying to answer that question, this novel emerged.”
Now I have to check out that article…