The Finnish Girl - A Novel
by Dennis Frahmann
As reviewed by Publishers Weekly
"A multilayered story about family, identity, remorse, and the fracturing effects
of long-held secrets told mostly in flashback, this excellent manuscript
revolves around Lempi Makinen Lahti, the Finnish girl of the book's title, and
the ways her existence has influenced the lives of the novel's fully realized
cast of characters.
The story takes place in Wisconsin, and begins in 1983.
Danny Lahti, Lempi and Toivo Lahti's 14-year-old son, returns home from school
to find his life forever changed: his mind floods with memories, one in
particular is his mother crying while looking through mementos stored in the
hope chest that belonged to Lempi's friend and mother-like protector, Pauline.
Danny decides to browse through the trunk. He's familiar with everything it
contains except for an envelope of newspaper clippings and photographs he finds
hidden at the bottom. Each keepsake of Lempi's life that Danny examines prompts
a chapter change and a storytelling shift. Drama and intrigue unfold in a
steady, controlled pace and build in intensity as the novel progresses. A
newspaper photo from 1967 triggers Toivo's account of his courtship, marriage,
and tumultuous life with Lempi, a moody and zealous activist whose crusades
against the Vietnam War prove disastrous.
And that's only the beginning: a
crush of revealed secrets weave a web of deceit in this accomplished and
poignant novel. Melancholic, brooding, and cut-to-the-bone incisive, this is a
tale to remember"