Let the Northern Light Erase Your Name
By Vida Vendela
Read April 2018 and July 2021
This reader didn’t write an essay about this book when first read not because it wasn’t worthy of it but because she just plain got behind. In fact, this reader re-read the book a few months ago and might re-read it again. Clearly much attraction to this book…
The protagonist loses her father abruptly when he dies in his sixties of a heart attack. When working through his estate our protagonist finds her birth certificate which indicates he is not her biological father after all. She had suffered another abrupt loss of a parent when her mother walked out on the family years prior, when our protagonist was 14, with no warning. It turns out her fiancée, Pankaj, (the boy next door) learned from his mother about the paternity secret some fifteen years earlier but never told our protagonist. Feeling fully abandoned and tricked by everyone she knows, our protagonist takes off for Lapland, a region in northern Finland, to find the father listed on her birth certificate. The story follows our protagonist on her long and not simple journey to the church where her supposed biological father is a minister. There she learns that he isn’t her real father either. She doggedly pursues her quest to learn more about her mother, her real father, why her mother left her family, and how she should view herself now.
So, the attraction to read was and is the interesting journey the protagonist takes to find out about her past, the descriptions of the geography and the particulars of the journey, and the people she meets. The tardiness in writing about this very interesting book? The protagonist’s journey is difficult physically and mentally and what she learns is difficult to digest for her and for the reader. How to move on? It’s not obvious to her or this reader.
This reader may read yet again to seek a path forward. Definitely worth the read.