The truth beneath the surface

Fiction - General
230 Pages
Reviewed on 01/14/2015
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Author Biography

While working a full-time job I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from the University of Alberta. My writing is influenced by my travel adventures. I have crossed the desert by camel, drifted in a hot air balloon, floated to earth under a parachute, bounced from a bungee, sailed the Pacific Ocean,scuba dived with the Cousteau Society,bicycled through the valley of the kings, hiked the great wall and run a marathon. What I treasure above all is the companionship of my friends.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Sarah Lowry for Readers' Favorite

Watermark by Sari Sikstrom is the story of a young woman’s search for her own identity. Vela lives in the shadow of her famous opera singer mother and was raised by her grandparents. Although her mother was often away when she was young, Vela has a good relationship with her. It is Vela’s unknown father who haunts her life. While in Rome to pack up her mother’s rental home, Vela discovers letters between her grandmother and one of her mother’s childhood teachers. These letters lead Vela into a past full of love and heartache. While Vela journeys through the past to find her own identity, she discovers that what she has always needed and wanted has been with her from childhood, and she learns the reason her mother has kept her father’s identity hidden.

Watermark is a story that kept me yearning to know more. Sari Sikstrom manages to tell not one but two stories in this novel, which had me entranced. I loved learning about the lives of Vela’s mother, her grandmother, and her mother’s teacher. Sikstrom seamlessly wove these stories together with Vela’s. The descriptions of both Rome and India were vivid and full of imagery, enabling me to see these places as though I was there. I would have liked to see a little more of the romance and about Vela’s unusual job as a Forensic Librarian. I’m a huge fan of books, so I found Vela’s job intriguing and loved the emphasis on books throughout the story. Sikstrom’s writing has a lovely poetic quality that drew me in and captivated me. I loved this story and can’t wait to read more by this wonderful author.

Jackie Timmons

Watermark: The Truth Beneath the Surface by Sari Sikstrom is a beautifully written, intriguing novel. As the book begins, we meet Dr. Vela Ostovfold, a forensic librarian and daughter of a prominent opera star, Olivia. Vela is often mistaken for her famous mother, but her father's identity is a complete mystery to her. Raised primarily by her grandparents in Canada, Vela learned to not ask questions about her father. But that hasn't stopped her curiosity. When clearing out her mother's Rome apartment, Vela and her best friend and fellow book enthusiast, Amelia, discover a trunk filled with saved memorabilia and letters. In hopes of finding a clue that would lead her to her father, the two sift through the contents of the trunk. Most intriguing is a collection of letters from Miss Penelope Arthur, Olivia's teacher, to Vela's grandmother. Will these letters help lead Vela to her father?

Sari Sikstrom's Watermark could easily be the first book in a series. While Vela spent the majority of this story reading letters and searching for her father, her forensic librarian work, when described, is fascinating and could lead to many additional stories. All the characters are well developed and interesting. Vela's best friend, Amelia, is likable and spirited and Amelia's family, who consider Vela to be one of their own, seem to be a group who could add a lot of comedy to the story. The letters from Miss Arthur are beautiful and descriptive. I was glad when we were able to meet Miss Arthur and learn even more of her story and Olivia's. I would have liked to hear a little more about Vela's relationship with Franco, but overall, I enjoyed this book.

Heather Osborne

Watermark: The Truth beneath the Surface by Sari Sikstrom is a novel about Vela Ostofvold, daughter of a famous opera singer, Olivia Ostofvold. Vela has chosen a different path from that of her mother and prefers a quiet life amongst books. She travels Europe helping families restore and catalog their precious libraries. Vela is driven by the greatest mystery of all: who is her father. While packing her mother’s apartment in Rome, Vela comes across a box of letters from an old friend to her grandmother. This is the push she needed to unlock the mystery of her father’s identity. Traveling to England, Vela visits old friends of her mother’s to try to gain more insight into her conundrum. Will she discover the identity of the man or is the secret lost to the ages?

Miss Sikstrom is very creative in her execution of this novel. I liked how the letters between Vela’s grandmother and an old friend painted a very vivid picture of life in India. At points in the letters, it was as if I was stepping back in time as India seemed to change very little despite it being the 1970s. While the book was an easy read, I felt the story somewhat lacking. The ending felt rushed and I wanted to know more about what happened with Vela and Franco. Overall though, as a compelling read, Watermark: The Truth Beneath the Surface shows us how finding out the answers to life’s mysteries doesn’t always bring happiness, but it can bring about closure.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

In Watermark: The Truth Beneath the Surface by Sari Sikstrom, we find Vela signing copies of her new book when she is approached by a young girl who wants to know how much a book she inherited is worth. Vela reveals that it could tell the girl a bit about her ancestry, something that Vela is looking into for herself. A journey to Italy where she finds letters in her mother’s apartment sends Vela on a journey to India where she starts to unravel the mystery surrounding her father. Vela is also on another quest – to find a dictionary that was published in 1656, a Glossographia. On her journey, she meets Amelia who becomes her friend and leads to her questioning whether she had anything to do with the disappearance of her father. Will Vela find everything she is looking for or does she keep on meeting dead ends?

Watermark: The Truth Beneath the Surface by Sari Sikstrom was an interesting read. It is a rare mix of a family story, with mystery, exotic locations and an interwoven love story that all come together in one gentle meandering journey. The characters were believably written and added to the story. I felt like I was living it, seeing it all in Technicolor through their eyes. For a debut author, I believe that Sari Sikstrom is onto a real winner here and I would love to read more from her in the very near future.

Maria Beltran

Watermark: The Truth Beneath the Surface by Sari Sikstrom revolves around the life of forensic librarian Dr. Vela Ostofvold. She is the love child of Olivia, an internationally renowned singer. She grows up in Canada in her grandparents’ care and later joins her mother in Italy, where as a fourteen-year-old girl, her interest in books is nurtured by her friendship with Amelia, daughter of the owner of Persolino’s Rare Bookstore. She also gets to know Amelia’s cousin, Franco. Vela finds a bundle of interesting letters in her mother’s apartment with clues relating to her father’s identity. As she sets out for Oxford, England, she faces the nagging doubts about her relationship with Franco and her father’s real identity. Will she ever find what she is looking for?

Sari Sikstrom, author of Watermark: The Truth Beneath the Surface, is a master story teller. Her creative writing style is lyrical and poetic. This, however, does not diminish the clarity of the story. On the contrary, her choice of words enhances the narrative. Set in Italy and England, she brings her readers to exotic India through the letters that were written to her grandmother ages ago. It is easy to relate to the characters in the story because they are well developed and they possess strengths and flaws like all of us. Consistent and clear, this is the tale of a young woman’s quest to find the truth beneath the surface. This is a refreshing story told from a unique perspective. As a forensic librarian, Vela is an expert in deciphering the inscriptions left in old books by their previous owners and, as some truths are revealed, she tries to find the truth about her own existence. I highly recommend this book!