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The Finnish Girl

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Secrets kill. Not just those you choose to keep from others, or even those that others guard from you. There remains those secrets that you so desperately keep hidden from yourself. They all catch up with Lempi Makinen Lahti. When Lempi's teenage son Danny discovers her suicide, he seeks to solve the mysteries that defined her life and death. A pack of letters and clippings Secrets kill. Not just those you choose to keep from others, or even those that others guard from you. There remains those secrets that you so desperately keep hidden from yourself. They all catch up with Lempi Makinen Lahti. When Lempi's teenage son Danny discovers her suicide, he seeks to solve the mysteries that defined her life and death. A pack of letters and clippings hidden in an old family trunk may be the only keep to understanding both his mother's past and his own future. The Finnish Girl is a richly told tapestry of interwoven characters - the family patriarch who emigrates from Finland to the United States to create his own future, a son who turns his back on his home as part of an ill-fated mission to Russia during the Depression, the elderly mother who faces deportation in an America driven by fear during the Red Scare, and the young Finnish girl who cares too much about the injustices she sees. Decisions in one generation propel another on unexpected paths, until on family's hope for the American dream threaten to be come its nightmare.


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Secrets kill. Not just those you choose to keep from others, or even those that others guard from you. There remains those secrets that you so desperately keep hidden from yourself. They all catch up with Lempi Makinen Lahti. When Lempi's teenage son Danny discovers her suicide, he seeks to solve the mysteries that defined her life and death. A pack of letters and clippings Secrets kill. Not just those you choose to keep from others, or even those that others guard from you. There remains those secrets that you so desperately keep hidden from yourself. They all catch up with Lempi Makinen Lahti. When Lempi's teenage son Danny discovers her suicide, he seeks to solve the mysteries that defined her life and death. A pack of letters and clippings hidden in an old family trunk may be the only keep to understanding both his mother's past and his own future. The Finnish Girl is a richly told tapestry of interwoven characters - the family patriarch who emigrates from Finland to the United States to create his own future, a son who turns his back on his home as part of an ill-fated mission to Russia during the Depression, the elderly mother who faces deportation in an America driven by fear during the Red Scare, and the young Finnish girl who cares too much about the injustices she sees. Decisions in one generation propel another on unexpected paths, until on family's hope for the American dream threaten to be come its nightmare.

30 review for The Finnish Girl

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is a very powerful story of Finns making a life in America. I really related to I because my great grandparents on both sides came from Finland, so a lot of the Finnish culture in the book was fun to read. But the story is really interesting as well... I could have really enjoyed an entire novel just about Risto’s storyline being stuck in Soviet Russia. But it is also a sad novel, reflecting the difficulties of trying to “do the right thing” but yet failing. But even the melancholy of the b This is a very powerful story of Finns making a life in America. I really related to I because my great grandparents on both sides came from Finland, so a lot of the Finnish culture in the book was fun to read. But the story is really interesting as well... I could have really enjoyed an entire novel just about Risto’s storyline being stuck in Soviet Russia. But it is also a sad novel, reflecting the difficulties of trying to “do the right thing” but yet failing. But even the melancholy of the book reflects Finnish character... we have Sisu and yet we struggle with our convictions. I guess that’s why the Finns love death metal so much :)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wanda Gibbons

    Wonderful story. Rich, vivid details and descriptions that make the reader feel that they are there. Beautiful use of figurative language to further explain and deepen the reader’s connection to the characters and their story. A family saga steeped in the traditions of a Finnish cultural up bringing set against the red scare period in history and pried open by the letters and clippings in an old trunk. A heart stopping introduction will keep you reading. Like a family saga, different characters’ Wonderful story. Rich, vivid details and descriptions that make the reader feel that they are there. Beautiful use of figurative language to further explain and deepen the reader’s connection to the characters and their story. A family saga steeped in the traditions of a Finnish cultural up bringing set against the red scare period in history and pried open by the letters and clippings in an old trunk. A heart stopping introduction will keep you reading. Like a family saga, different characters’ point of view and a little history then you might really enjoy Danny, Lempi, Pauline, Risto, Toivo and Eero’s story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Peterson

    At first I thought I wouldn’t like this book, but as I read it and the history it portrayed about immigrants (particularly from Finland, for this book’s purpose) in the United States, I really got interested in it. There were happy times, but certainly many, many hardships for people, even into the 1980s.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Wright

    A glimpse of the past... Being of Finnish decent, I found this an interesting read. The treatment of Finns during the McCarthy era was something I had never heard about. And the Russian involvement in so many young lives; changed forever what was a hope to make things better, turned out to have so much less. The Finnish Girl will be with me for awhile...

  5. 5 out of 5

    MWBP

    Secret Memories – A review of the novel ‘The Finnish Girl’ “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware” - Martin Buber Melancholy is often a misinterpreted word in fiction. It isn’t always a glorification of unhappiness or sadness, sometimes melancholy may be our only aid as we deal with the polarities and complexities of our everyday existence. Dennis Frahmann’s fictional book ‘The Finnish Girl’ is a carefully researched and crafted novel that offers a comparative stu Secret Memories – A review of the novel ‘The Finnish Girl’ “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware” - Martin Buber Melancholy is often a misinterpreted word in fiction. It isn’t always a glorification of unhappiness or sadness, sometimes melancholy may be our only aid as we deal with the polarities and complexities of our everyday existence. Dennis Frahmann’s fictional book ‘The Finnish Girl’ is a carefully researched and crafted novel that offers a comparative study of different generations of a Finnish family living and surviving in America through its many landmark social and political upheavals. The Finnish Girl unwinds like a fairy tale, albeit a slightly dark, meant for adults kind where there are no external heroes and villains and only varied circumstances which brings forth the good and bad in men. After introducing a 14 year old boy Danny, who unearths his dead mother’s old and mysterious trunk which offers up old letters & photographs revealing a secret in their family history, this novel jumps back and forth between the past and the present years in Wisconsin, USA. A young woman, Lempi straddles her personal life as well as mourns the mysterious circumstances and conspiracies her family history throws at her across different generations. Secrets sometimes brings people closer and sometimes it drives them apart and every decision, small or big has its consequence, a cross that they must bear in this lifetime. The Finnish Girl is the narration of a bittersweet and forgotten memory of a family and their loved ones. It's told through the eyes of Danny, as he finds out more about his family’s past and possible future in the wake of his mother’s sudden death due to suicide. It is a well-told story which could sometimes be mistaken for a historical fiction due to the juxtapositions of the lead character’s personal milestones with the many important American milestones of the 20th century. And while these moments may have been painful for a lot of people to live through, they were nonetheless an important part of the country’s history and it has been rightly acknowledged and captured in the course of the story telling. Author Dennis Frahmann’s novel is an intense and emotions packed experience. It starts with a flourish and ends just as well and in between one gets to experience the author’s great skills as he masterfully juggles the emotional resonances and cogency of the narrative while never dropping pace of the story. The author has managed to successfully extract out of this book this sort of melancholic, radiant, poetic imagery with vivid descriptions that offers an introspective insight into relationships between members of a family. The non linear plot filled with melancholy, death, and family dynamics impacted by politics, forbidden love, and red scare is exquisitely structured. The Finnish family’s customs, values, joys and challenges too have been portrayed in vivid honesty and detail. The cost of being different or just having lived through a strange period of time is perhaps what the characters leave you the most with, which also doesn’t shy away from celebrating the true and real feelings of love and its insecurities. The Finnish Girl is a moving, touching and beautifully written piece of literature. The narrative is so gripping and engaging that you will end up reading the entire book in one sitting. Even with the numerous storylines all weaving together, the mystery or the reason behind the character’s decisions keeps the reader wanting more till the very end. It is also a thought provoking character study told from multiple points of view. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Hall

    I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. A relatively short book, perhaps too ambitious for the length. The author attempted to cram in explanations of several major political events along with a richly detailed and confusing family history presented in multiple viewpoints and generations. Understandably, the story felt disjointed and the thread of plot was difficult to follow when overshadowed by other elements. This style of writing (beginning with one narrator, then switching to a I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. A relatively short book, perhaps too ambitious for the length. The author attempted to cram in explanations of several major political events along with a richly detailed and confusing family history presented in multiple viewpoints and generations. Understandably, the story felt disjointed and the thread of plot was difficult to follow when overshadowed by other elements. This style of writing (beginning with one narrator, then switching to another and another) can be extremely effective, but the difficult task of demonstrating the interconnectedness of those tales was lacking. Encapsulated, it is the story of Lempi's life from childhood through to her death. It is the story of a first-generation American, a child of Finnish immigrants who settled in rural Wisconsin. It is also the story of her parents, her brothers, her husband, and her child. The novel could also be seen as commentary on the heredity of mental health issues, and a chronological explanation of political unrest including the Red Scare and anti-war movements. Oh, and also a look at life in Stalinist USSR. There were also several proofreading errors, which really jars the fluidity of the story (at least for me).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This book touched a chord with me. Having just read Icelander Halldor Laxness’ book Independent People, I discovered that “The Finnish Girl,” though a very different kind of story, touched on political issues that caused problems for Laxness when his book was published in the thirties. A belief in the ideals behind socialism/communism seems to be popular in Nordic countries in the early part of the twentieth century and immigrants to this country brought these ideas with them. Other reviewers ha This book touched a chord with me. Having just read Icelander Halldor Laxness’ book Independent People, I discovered that “The Finnish Girl,” though a very different kind of story, touched on political issues that caused problems for Laxness when his book was published in the thirties. A belief in the ideals behind socialism/communism seems to be popular in Nordic countries in the early part of the twentieth century and immigrants to this country brought these ideas with them. Other reviewers have captured the story of Lempi and her family which will draw many people in – if you enjoy history at all you will also appreciate how the politics of the time serve as a backdrop to the family drama that unfolds through several generations. As the author weaves actual historical figures and events into the story, you are not only entertained, but see how easily politics becomes personal and what it does to the path a person’s life may take.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    I received this book for free from a Goodreads giveaway. I actually enjoyed this book a lot. I liked all the details about Finnish emigrant life and the way the author mixed in actual historical events from both his family and Wisconsin. It was interesting to read something from the point of view from those who strongly believed in Communism and the impact of that on their lives in America during that period. I really liked the way the book was broken down into sections based on each characters p I received this book for free from a Goodreads giveaway. I actually enjoyed this book a lot. I liked all the details about Finnish emigrant life and the way the author mixed in actual historical events from both his family and Wisconsin. It was interesting to read something from the point of view from those who strongly believed in Communism and the impact of that on their lives in America during that period. I really liked the way the book was broken down into sections based on each characters point of view, and thought each character's chapter was entertaining, as opposed to some novels where there is a certain character's POV that you have to struggle through just to get to the next chapter. The storyline was very complex but I liked how the author wove it through the different time periods and characters and wrapped it up nicely (and sadly) at the end.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carol A Lassila

    Who would guess the story told in this book with a simple name? I picked this book because I am a Finnish girl. I live in Wisconsin and was raised in a small Finnish community in the Upper Peninsula for the first 11 years of my life. From the opening of the book I was hooked and could not put it down. The way the story is laid out in a very interesting way that let's you spend ample time getting to know each character. My own family has some of same stories about Karelia, but they were never spok Who would guess the story told in this book with a simple name? I picked this book because I am a Finnish girl. I live in Wisconsin and was raised in a small Finnish community in the Upper Peninsula for the first 11 years of my life. From the opening of the book I was hooked and could not put it down. The way the story is laid out in a very interesting way that let's you spend ample time getting to know each character. My own family has some of same stories about Karelia, but they were never spoken of,this book helped shed some help. A great read!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Keiger

    Being half Finnish, I was delighted to see a book about a Finnish girl. My parents had a dog named Sisu (that's the only Finnish word I know, meaning courageous and bold), so I was tickled to learn that Lempi means love. Many of the statements about Finlanders were true for me, and that was both surprising and comforting. The style of writing was interesting, jumping from year to year and character to character, tying the whole story together in the process. Trust me, you don't need to be Finnis Being half Finnish, I was delighted to see a book about a Finnish girl. My parents had a dog named Sisu (that's the only Finnish word I know, meaning courageous and bold), so I was tickled to learn that Lempi means love. Many of the statements about Finlanders were true for me, and that was both surprising and comforting. The style of writing was interesting, jumping from year to year and character to character, tying the whole story together in the process. Trust me, you don't need to be Finnish to enjoy this book. I think I'll read it again.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gretel

    A very sad historical novel that doesn't leave any room to come up for air. Definitely an ambitious novel, with many threads to the stories and the characters all having their own secrets, but I feel that Frahmann has bitten off more than he can chew given the page count. I reckon it could be rewritten as a great 500 page story; it has most of the components to be great. The use of chapters would've made this book easier to read, too. A very sad historical novel that doesn't leave any room to come up for air. Definitely an ambitious novel, with many threads to the stories and the characters all having their own secrets, but I feel that Frahmann has bitten off more than he can chew given the page count. I reckon it could be rewritten as a great 500 page story; it has most of the components to be great. The use of chapters would've made this book easier to read, too.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Glenda Zielinski

    Rating by a Finnish girl On the plus side, some interesting history. On the minus, if you want to spend many hours in hopelessness and despondency, you've got the right book. Finnish women with no spiritual anchor, tossed about by life's storms and without God nor purpose. So depressing. Rating by a Finnish girl On the plus side, some interesting history. On the minus, if you want to spend many hours in hopelessness and despondency, you've got the right book. Finnish women with no spiritual anchor, tossed about by life's storms and without God nor purpose. So depressing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Destiny Brown

    Emotional Drama Of A Family's Secrets The Finnish Girl by Dennis Frahmann is an emotional story of one family's saga and secrets. Part historical fiction part contemporary fiction, the story focuses on one family's move to America and the secrets and mysteries of their journey. The story is emotional, sad, riveting and surprising. Great, great read! Highly Recommended!! Emotional Drama Of A Family's Secrets The Finnish Girl by Dennis Frahmann is an emotional story of one family's saga and secrets. Part historical fiction part contemporary fiction, the story focuses on one family's move to America and the secrets and mysteries of their journey. The story is emotional, sad, riveting and surprising. Great, great read! Highly Recommended!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Caristy Olson

    This was an interesting book. A story of political intrigue and a witch hunt for Communists. It's about political activists & family secrets. What do you do when your family has secrets & family secrets that are never said. A interesting read but sad read. This was an interesting book. A story of political intrigue and a witch hunt for Communists. It's about political activists & family secrets. What do you do when your family has secrets & family secrets that are never said. A interesting read but sad read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dixie M Wooten

    Attention Holder I appreciated the clever technique the author used in withholding "what comes next" info. Anticipation for the next crucial event was always on the reader,s mind. Thoroughly enjoyed The Finnish Girl"!! Attention Holder I appreciated the clever technique the author used in withholding "what comes next" info. Anticipation for the next crucial event was always on the reader,s mind. Thoroughly enjoyed The Finnish Girl"!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alvin Dalgleish

    Great story! The author made this complicated story interesting and easy to read. I especially enjoyed the different characters' perspectives on the events in the U.S. during the 1900's. I will definitely read more from this author. Great story! The author made this complicated story interesting and easy to read. I especially enjoyed the different characters' perspectives on the events in the U.S. during the 1900's. I will definitely read more from this author.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Helen Nelson

    Interesting read The book follows the lives of a family Finns. A chapter for each family member. Not a fast read, but interesting

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lotte Downey

    I cannot finish this book. I find it very boring, and no real sympathetic characters. Shelving this book without finishing it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Helena

    Disappointing - poor editing. Stuck with it because of being a Finn and there isn't a lot of fiction that features Finns. Did learn something about the experience of Wisconsin Finns. Disappointing - poor editing. Stuck with it because of being a Finn and there isn't a lot of fiction that features Finns. Did learn something about the experience of Wisconsin Finns.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jayne

    A quick read . The Finnish persona is there but the historical is so loose.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tiina Walsh

    A beautifully written, sad story spanning c. 100 years of Finnish/Soviet Union/American-Finnish history.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Finnish Very sad but very good. Great book!! It started with a bang and never let up from there. Enjoy this novel.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hiromi Tanabe Ando

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann Vosburgh

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Tackett

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary J Edrei

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mushroom Mama

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd

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