Norma by Sofi Oksanen
A novel

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In spite of promising material, the question of who will emerge victorious loses its urgency along the way, and the ending, though surprising, fails to satisfy.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

From the internationally best-selling author of Purge and When the Doves Disappeared, a spellbinding new novel set in present-day Helsinki, about a young woman with a fantastical secret who is trying to solve the mystery of her mother's death.

When Anita Naakka jumps in front of an oncoming train, her daughter, Norma, is left alone with the secret they have spent their lives hiding: Norma has supernatural hair, sensitive to the slightest changes in her mood--and the moods of those around her--moving of its own accord, corkscrewing when danger is near. And so it is her hair that alerts her, while she talks with a strange man at her mother's funeral, that her mother may not have taken her own life. Setting out to reconstruct Anita's final months--sifting through puzzling cell phone records, bank statements, video files--Norma begins to realize that her mother knew more about her hair's powers than she let on: a sinister truth beyond Norma's imagining. As Sofi Oksanen leads us ever more deeply into Norma's world, weaving together past and present, she gives us a dark family drama that is a searing portrait of both the exploitation of women's bodies and the extremes to which people will go for the sake of beauty.
 

About Sofi Oksanen

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SOFI OKSANEN is a Finnish-Estonian novelist and playwright. She has received numerous prizes for her work, including the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize, the Prix Femina, the Budapest Grand Prize, the European Book Prize, and the Nordic Council Literature Prize. She lives in Helsinki. Translated from the Finnish by Lola Rogers.
 
Published September 5, 2017 by Knopf. 319 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Norma
All: 4 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Below average
on Jun 20 2017

In spite of promising material, the question of who will emerge victorious loses its urgency along the way, and the ending, though surprising, fails to satisfy.

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Star Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Sep 15 2017

What’s most remarkable is how unremarkable it all seems, laid out along the lines of a somewhat slow thriller and propped up with hair-­history research (Norma longs to learn about her roots, so to speak) — a passable entertainment...

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Marcia Kaye on Nov 17 2017

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I didn’t find Norma quite lives up to its billing...Norma is an odd sort of hybrid, its important social criticisms only partially seen through a story that, like Norma’s hair, has a few too many tangles.

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The Economist

Above average
on Nov 23 2017

The plot thickens, and tangles. As a thriller, “Norma” is more an unruly bird’s-nest than a sleek, neat bob. It gels in Ms Oksanen’s clear-eyed concern with the injustice that drives underprivileged women to surrender body-parts.

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