After the death of her father, Clarissa is stunned to learn that he was not in fact her biological father. Shortly after that, she discovers that her fiance, a lifelong family friend, has known for years and has kept this secret from her. Anxious to discover the truth about her life, her identity, and her real father, Clarissa heads to the top of the world in search of her answers. Once in Lapland (an area inside the Arctic circle where Norway and Finland meet), she discovers more than she ever could have expected to find there- some things good, others not. When all is said and done, she must choose what kind of life she wants to forge for herself in the future.
The plot of this story isn’t necessarily new- a girl discovers that the people she loves have lied to her, and she goes in search of the truth while nursing her hurt. But what is new, and part of what I think makes this story unique, is the northern backdrop. To venture into the Arctic circle, where she knows no one and doesn’t speak the language, during the dead of winter is incredibly brave (of course, given that I’m a lifelong California girl and don’t really grasp the concept of snow or cold, I would probably think a trip to Tahoe in the dead of winter was incredibly brave). And the isolated atmosphere really lends itself to Clarissa’s emotional struggles.
I do wish, however, that Clarissa had been a better developed character. By the time the story was over, I didn’t really feel like I knew her all that well. And maybe that was intentional on the part of the author, since in many ways, Clarissa didn’t know herself. But since I like strong characters, Clarissa was a bit of a letdown. And the overall plot of the book wasn’t enough to distract me from the fact that I didn’t feel like I was getting to know her.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to those who like their stories quietly dramatic and introspective. Those who prefer flashy stories that are full of action are probably better off taking a pass, though.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Qualifying Challenges: 100 Books, Countdown Challenge, Spring Reading Thing, 999 Challenge
999 Category: Women in Fiction