Magical Realism Young Adult

The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance Review

A lyrical tale and profound portrayal of grief, loss, and the journey toward healing set against the backdrop of the Northern Lights. 

Eline was six years old when her mother bundled her up extra warm, took her out onto a frozen fjord in the middle of the night, and vanished — swept away by the Northern Lights after whistling for them (just like Arctic legend warned). Ten years later, Eline (Eli) and her dad have moved from the Arctic Circle to Cape Cod, but her mother’s absence continues to haunt her. Eli’s best and only friend — Eli’s got abandonment issues — is quirky über-genius Iris. (This story is about Eli’s journey, but their friendship is a beautiful thing to read.) When the Northern Lights appear in Cape Cod, along with mysterious letters delivered by the wind and other magical occurrences, Eli knows it’s time to return to Norway to find her mom and bring her back home.

The Wide Starlight is magical realism at its finest, a beautiful and achingly vivid tale of loss and grief, of what it means to be human and suffer. It’s a portrayal of mental illness expressed via a tapestry of Norwegian fairytales (mythology), with “once upon a time…” tales woven in between Eli’s first-person account of the present. The effect is a dreamlike whole — something hauntingly enchanting. The Wide Starlight is a tale spun of magic, yet at its core, it’s so true to the human condition that readers will find something that deeply resonates here.


Book: The Wide Starlight
Published: Razorbill
Pages: 320
Publication Date: February 16th, 2021
Age Range: 13 – 18
Stars: 4/5

Penguin Teen kindly sent me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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