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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 her fiancé has just revealed a life-changing secret to her. Alone and adrift, Clarissa travels to mystical Lapland, where she believes she'll meet her real father. There, at a hotel made of ice, Clarissa is confronted with the truth about her mother's his­tory, and must make a decision about how—and where—to live the rest of her life.

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061844386
List price: $9.99
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Clarissa is cleaning up her recently deceased father's apartment when she comes across her birth certificate. She is shocked to discover that the man she has always known to be her father is not biologically related to her. Clarissa is further shocked to discover that her fiance, Pankaj, had known of her parentage many years before but never divulged this information. Clarissa lashes out at him I believe in part because there is really no one else to visit her anger on. Her mother left when she was 14/15, never to be seen again, the man she thought was her father is dead and her only living relative is her developmentally challenged brother who has never spoken. Pankaj becomes her easy scape goat upon whom to rain her venom.I finished this book yesterday and I am still wrestling with how I feel about Clarissa. She is a woman in pain and quite honestly has been for a long time. Even before her mother's disappearance, she was never the best of mothers. Her mother was always flighty, shallow and seemed to pick up and drop people at will. But a parent is a parent and Clarissa misses her mother intensely when she is gone. She even goes searching for her mother on more than one occasion. With this as a backdrop, I can understand some of Clarissa's decisions while shaking my head at others. Upon her discovery of her parentage, she leaves her fiance in New York, without a word to him as to her plans and goes in search of her biological father who lives in Lapland. Her journey reflects a young woman battling emotional issues, anger and a descent into recklessness. She meets and "befriends" a varied cast of characters without a lot of concern for her safety. Its almost like she is dead inside and is looking for a way to get a reaction by putting herself in danger. I was saddened for her while at the same time exasperated at her behavior. By the end, she makes some very drastic decisions that I could not fully fathom. On the one hand I could sympathize with her need to leave her cloying past behind and start anew but why discard so much? I can understand and commiserate with the need to separate from the things and people that have shaped us, but the way in which she makes a clean break is cold and bloodless. Without maybe even realizing or fully acknowledging it, Clarissa becomes like the mother who hurt her so painfully. Clarissa's mother is a very interesting character herself. Here we are presented with a woman who has two children and is unapologetic about casting them aside and moving on. No care, no remorse. It was a bit shocking to read. This is a very quiet and atmospheric book. Reading about life in Lapland reminds me of cold and snow drenched environs where the ice on the ground muffles sound. This cold, bare and frigid setting echoes the plot quite seamlessly.read more
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a beautifully written book about a young woman's quest first to find her father, and then her mother. Some lovely turns of phrase and poetic prose.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book doesn't really have much to recommend it, except its premise. The main character, Clarissa, learns upon her father's death that he is not her biological father. Her real father is a Sami, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia. Her mother disappeared when she was twelve as well. Clarissa sets off for Finland to try to find her father and learn more about her mother. As I said, the book doesn't have much to recommend it. The writing is not especially interesting and the plot turns out to be not so interesting either, but the setup was so odd and interesting that I kept reading just to find out what happened.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

Clarissa is cleaning up her recently deceased father's apartment when she comes across her birth certificate. She is shocked to discover that the man she has always known to be her father is not biologically related to her. Clarissa is further shocked to discover that her fiance, Pankaj, had known of her parentage many years before but never divulged this information. Clarissa lashes out at him I believe in part because there is really no one else to visit her anger on. Her mother left when she was 14/15, never to be seen again, the man she thought was her father is dead and her only living relative is her developmentally challenged brother who has never spoken. Pankaj becomes her easy scape goat upon whom to rain her venom.I finished this book yesterday and I am still wrestling with how I feel about Clarissa. She is a woman in pain and quite honestly has been for a long time. Even before her mother's disappearance, she was never the best of mothers. Her mother was always flighty, shallow and seemed to pick up and drop people at will. But a parent is a parent and Clarissa misses her mother intensely when she is gone. She even goes searching for her mother on more than one occasion. With this as a backdrop, I can understand some of Clarissa's decisions while shaking my head at others. Upon her discovery of her parentage, she leaves her fiance in New York, without a word to him as to her plans and goes in search of her biological father who lives in Lapland. Her journey reflects a young woman battling emotional issues, anger and a descent into recklessness. She meets and "befriends" a varied cast of characters without a lot of concern for her safety. Its almost like she is dead inside and is looking for a way to get a reaction by putting herself in danger. I was saddened for her while at the same time exasperated at her behavior. By the end, she makes some very drastic decisions that I could not fully fathom. On the one hand I could sympathize with her need to leave her cloying past behind and start anew but why discard so much? I can understand and commiserate with the need to separate from the things and people that have shaped us, but the way in which she makes a clean break is cold and bloodless. Without maybe even realizing or fully acknowledging it, Clarissa becomes like the mother who hurt her so painfully. Clarissa's mother is a very interesting character herself. Here we are presented with a woman who has two children and is unapologetic about casting them aside and moving on. No care, no remorse. It was a bit shocking to read. This is a very quiet and atmospheric book. Reading about life in Lapland reminds me of cold and snow drenched environs where the ice on the ground muffles sound. This cold, bare and frigid setting echoes the plot quite seamlessly.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
a beautifully written book about a young woman's quest first to find her father, and then her mother. Some lovely turns of phrase and poetic prose.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book doesn't really have much to recommend it, except its premise. The main character, Clarissa, learns upon her father's death that he is not her biological father. Her real father is a Sami, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia. Her mother disappeared when she was twelve as well. Clarissa sets off for Finland to try to find her father and learn more about her mother. As I said, the book doesn't have much to recommend it. The writing is not especially interesting and the plot turns out to be not so interesting either, but the setup was so odd and interesting that I kept reading just to find out what happened.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Refreshingly different- a young American woman abandoned by her mother sets off on a quest to find out the truth about her background- all the way to Lapland. However,I had trouble identifying with the main character and the end was too abrupt.
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Very good. Story of a young woman searching for unknown parts of her past and family. Reminded me of a spare Mona Simpson, in the subject, not in writing style. A memorable and unfamiliar setting, north of the Arctic Circle, with a main character who is not always easy to like or understand. Eero, Hendrick and Anna Kristine are all very definite and well drawn characters. Glad I found and read this book.
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This short novel only took a lazy Saturday to read. For me, reading it was an opportunity to journey to unknown territory. Set in northernmost Lapland amongst the Samis, it chronicles the protagonist's quest to find her birth father. There is an eery synchronicity in experience that key characters share. Confronted with unexpected pregnancies, mother and daughter choose different paths to resolving their fates. It was interesting to note that the original version was approximately 100 pages longer. The neatness and simplicity in which the final version of the story is told adds to its allure. Having put it down a few hours ago, I am left with the feeling of having read something quite profound. Both title and inspiration are taken from a Sami poem. There is definitely poetry here.
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