Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
In the beautiful, barren landscape of the Far North, under the ever-present midnight sun, Frances and Yasha are surprised to find refuge in each other. Their lives have been upended--Frances has fled heartbreak and claustrophobic Manhattan for an isolated artist colony; Yasha arrives from Brooklyn to fulfill his beloved father's last wish: to be buried “at the top of the world.” They have come to learn how to be alone.
But in Lofoten, an archipelago of six tiny islands in the Norwegian Sea, ninety-five miles north of the Arctic Circle, they form a bond that fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes, offering solace amidst great uncertainty. With nimble and sure-footed prose, Dinerstein reveals that no matter how far we travel to claim our own territory, it is ultimately love that gives us our place in the world.
"I just got the sense that the plot and characters weren't entirely developed but was looked over because of the (still) gorgeous writing."
I basically knew nothing about this going into it. I was just interested because of the awesome cover. The first thing I noticed when I started reading was Dinerstein's writing, and it remained one of the highlights of the novel. She writes in such a soothing, calm, and poetic/lyrical manner. The words seem to flow together, and the visual descriptions are such a treat. I felt like I could picture Lofoten and all the areas in the book well, with the exception of, surprisingly, Brooklyn.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. It felt so refreshing and just nice to read such lyrical, "pretty" writing. However, once that started to fade and become less of a draw in, the book began to disappoint me.
The characters seemed interesting at first/at first glance, but I felt as though I hardly got to know them. Some of the characters didn't feel their age, namely the main characters, Yasha and Frances. Their romance felt stilted and awkward and forced, only made worse by the fact that the writing seemed to convey that they were much further apart in age than they actually were. And while I appreciated the easy mentions of sex and other mature subjects, it honestly just made me feel awkward and weird, more because of execution and situation than anything, but nevertheless uncomfortable to read.
In addition, although I enjoyed the exploration of family and broken families, I didn't find the conflicts, or plot in general, very compelling. At first, they interested me, more because they were areas that had so much potential to be expanded upon than anything, but that soon faded as well. I found that the book began to get repetitive, and once I could start to see the direction of the plot, it didn't hold my interest anymore. There wasn't a huge climax or really a huge conflict. There were relationships that I thought would be explored more and Dinerstein could have done that well, but she just left it. Even though there was a fairly large cast of characters, it didn't really ever feel that way. And so the book started to drag--a lot--and there wasn't much that made me want to keep reading. It was mostly just the thought of her lyrical writing and the thought that I was almost at the end. The ending, too, however, left much to be desired. While I enjoyed it more than the bulk of the last half of the book, I also thought that it tried to do too much, sum up too much, all at once.
By the end, I didn't feel as though most of the characters had much depth--most of Yasha's character arc centered around his father, his mother, and his feelings for Frances, while most of Frances' character arc centered around her parents and her sister/her sister's wedding. I just got the sense that the plot and characters weren't entirely developed but was looked over because of the (still) gorgeous writing. But this book certainly didn't help my slump and only made it harder for me to push through and finish the book.