Title: The Wide Starlight
Author: Nicole Lesperance
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: VIZ Media
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: February 16, 2021
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.
Never whistle at the Northern Lights, the story goes, or they’ll sweep down from the sky and carry you away.
Sixteen-year-old Eline Davis knows it’s true. She was there ten years ago, on a frozen fjord in Svalbard, Norway, the night her mother whistled at the lights and then vanished.
Now Eli lives an ordinary life with her dad on Cape Cod. But when the Northern Lights are visible over the Cape for just one night, she can’t resist the possibility of seeing her mother again. So she whistles—and it works. Her mother appears, with snowy hair, frosty fingertips and a hazy story of where she’s been all these years. And she doesn’t return alone.
Along with Eli’s mother’s reappearance come strange, impossible things. Narwhals swimming in Cape Cod Bay, meteorites landing in Eli’s yard, and three shadowy princesses with ominous messages. It’s all too much, too fast, and Eli pushes her mother away. She disappears again—but this time, she leaves behind a note that will send Eli on a journey across continents, to the northern tip of the world:
Find me where I left you.
When Eline Davis was six years old, her mother brought her out to a glacier in Norway in the middle of the night. Eline was found, but her mother was never seen again. Now, ten years later, Eline lives in Cape Cod with her dad. One night, the Northern Lights appeared in Cape Cod. Eline went to the beach to see the lights and make a wish to see her mother again. Her mother appears to her, but there are also other strange appearances. A group of narwhals appear in a cove, and some mysterious princesses bring Eline strange messages. Eline knows the only way to fix this is to return to Norway and finally find her mother.
This story was a strange blend of magical realism. There were beautiful stories that Eline and her mother had written between the chapters. These stories were based on the real things that happened to them but they had fantasy elements which made me think they weren’t real. These fantasy elements were also part of the theme of mental illness. Hidden between the lines of Eline’s memories were the moments when her mother was suffering and couldn’t take care of her daughter. These were devastating stories to read about, but it shows how mental illness can affect the family of those suffering.
Though this story was about a sixteen year old girl, it had a middle grade tone. At the beginning I thought that Eline was around twelve or thirteen, but then I realized she was actually sixteen because her and her friends could drive. This story read more like a middle grade story than a young adult story.
This was a heartbreaking story.
Thank you Penguin for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
The Nightmare Thief by Nicole Lesperance
Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu
Have you read The Wide Starlight? What did you think of it?