By Monika Fagerholm
528 pages; Other Press
A teenager from the United States drowns, her body sucked into the murky water of a marsh in rural Finland. Her distraught lover, a local boy, hangs himself. The couple's constant sidekick goes mute with grief. A tragic but simple story, yes? Of course not. Nothing is obvious in The American Girl, a deliciously complex novel by award-winning Scandinavian writer Monika Fagerholm. Set in the 1970s, the book is part literary mystery, part sexual coming-of-age story about two lonely local girls, Doris and Sandra, who retreat into a world of their own imaginations, spending hours speculating about the dark details surrounding the American girl's death. As their bond tightens, Doris suspects that Sandra is hiding a terrible secret. "Now I wonder about everything," she says. But is Doris just imagining things? And what does Sandra's secret have to do with the American girl? You'll know just how Doris feels, but unlike her, you'll enjoy the suspense.