April 30, 2021

#BookReview: The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance

Synopsis: The Hazel Wood meets The Astonishing Color of After in this dreamy, atmospheric novel that follows sixteen-year-old Eli as she tries to remember what truly happened the night her mother disappeared off a glacier in Norway under the Northern Lights.

According to Arctic legend, if you whistle at the Northern Lights, they'll swoop down and carry you off forever. Sixteen-year-old Eline Davis knows it's true because it happened to her mother. Eli was there that night on the remote glacier in Svalbard, when her mother whistled, then vanished. 

Years later, Eli is living with her dad on Cape Cod. When Eli discovers the Northern Lights will be visible for one night on the Cape, she hatches a plan to use the lights to contact her missing mother. And it works. Her mother arrives with a hazy story of where she's been all this time. Eli knows no one will believe them, so she keeps it all a secret. But when magical, dangerous things start happening--narwhals appearing in Cape Code Bay, meteorites landing in the yard by the hundreds, three shadowy fairytale princesses whispering ominous messages--the secrets start to become more like lies.

It's all too much, too fast, and Eli pushes her mother away, not expecting her to disappear as abruptly as she appeared. Her mother's gone again, and Eli's devastated. Until she finds the note written in mother's elegant scrawl: Find me where I left you. And so, off to Svalbard Eli goes.


Rating: 1 Star
My Review: Sadly this book just wasn't for me.  The writing felt all over the place with the blending of stories.  It also felt more like a middle grade book vs. young adult.  I felt lost most of the time and wasn't really sure what in the world was really happening.  That was this self centered girl just nuts or was this really happening?  Think that this might be a little too much for lower middle grade and young adult readers.  But not enough for older young adult readers. 

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-Sixteen-year-old Eline Davis lives on Cape Cod with her American father. When she was little, they and her Norwegian mother, Silje, lived in Svalbard. When Eli was six, Silje took her to a glacier and whistled down the Northern Lights to take both of them away, but only her mother disappeared. Eli's felt broken ever since. Then Eli receives a mysterious letter written in Norwegian saying that Silje is close and to call her. The Northern Lights also appear over Cape Cod, so Eli tries whistling her mother back. Eli's afraid to believe it when Silje does return, not quite human. Eli starts seeing three mysterious girls in long cloaks with strange eyes skulking around. When meteorites begin falling and a pod of narwhals beach themselves on the cape, Eli realizes the longer her mother's there, the more things keep breaking down. Silje attempts to fix it and disappears again, leaving Eli a message that says, "Find me where I left you." Eli's search takes her and her father back to Svalbard to a grandmother Eli hated and the magical stories Silje used to tell Eli. This mesmerizing and sometimes heartbreaking fantasy reveals the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters while exploring mental illness, loss, regret, guilt, and forgiveness. All characters are white. VERDICT A haunting contemporary fantasy inspired by Norwegian fairy tales set on Cape Cod and on an island off Norway's coast. For fans of Emily X.R. Pan, Jaclyn Moriarty, Holly Black, Cornelia Funke, and Edith Pattou.-Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Lib., TrentonĪ±(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


★ "With her vividly rendered settings, emotionally complex characters, and sweet and sinister magical realism, Lesperance may be a promising successor to Alice Hoffman...[The Wide Starlight is] sharp and snow-dusted yet strangely cozy; a comforting winter's read." —Kirkus, starred review

★ "A lovely exploration of grief and the way stories shape our lives—and how reshaping stories can have consequences. The pages fly by as Lesperance’s compelling voice and masterful switching between present-day narrative and fairy-tale past smoothly build a portrait of intergenerational love, loss, and magic rooted in a glittering Arctic landscape." —BCCB, starred review

"This mesmerizing and sometimes heartbreaking fantasy reveals the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters...A haunting contemporary fantasy." —School Library Journal 

"Lesperance weaves the myth and magic of Norwegian folklore into a realistic setting in this wintry tale of a teen searching for her long-lost mother...an emotionally complex tale of the love between mothers and daughters that balances between ominous and cozy." —Booklist

"[A] promising debut." —Publishers Weekly

“Poetic and richly imagined, The Wide Starlight is a spell-binding journey through a world of Nordic fairytale…the heart-wrenching story of a teenage girl and her quest to reclaim and understand the mother who abandoned her.” —Edith Patou, award-winning author of East and West

"Nicole Lesperance blends crystalline prose, an atmospheric setting and memorable characters to create a story that dances and shines as brightly as the northern lights in her debut YA novel, The Wide Starlight." —BookPage

A Junior Library Guild Selection

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