18 April 2013

Why Was Aria So Popular In Iceland?

Sara Shepard's series of Pretty Little Liars books (and spin off television series) feature a group of four junior high school friends whose grow apart from each other until events in high school cause the blossoming young women to renew their ties in the face of mysterious events driven by an unknown person called "A", the first initial of the young woman who brought the rest of them together until she disappeared after a late eighth grade party without explanation. 

One of those young women is Aria Montgomery, and this post is about her.

This post contains no spoilers that are not revealed in the first few chapters of the first book, and in the first episode of the television show adaptation.

Aria is freshly returned from Iceland where her father had been taking a sabbatical.  She had not really found her place and identity when she left at the end of eighth grade.  She was basically a reject who wasn't considered all that by the boys of her suburban Philadelphia town when she left.

But, in Iceland, she was the object of desire of the cream of the crop of all of the local boys and made the best of her options.  This brings us to the critical question we answer today.

Why was Aria so popular in Iceland?

The answer to that question turns out to be an easy one.
The Icelandic population is very small and all Icelanders are related. But yet, it is big enough so everyone doesn't know one another. This means that each and every Icelander that is in a relationship, is dating a relative. In most cases those relations are distant. But not always. But how can they know?  
We all derive from the same family tree. An online registry, Íslendingabók ('The Book of Icelanders') holds information about the families of about 720,000 individuals who were born in Iceland at some point in time. Today, the population in Iceland is just about 320,000. The database can be found on islendingabok.is and everyone registered in the database has free access to it. . . .

"Am I sleeping with or dating my cousin?" an Icelander might ask. The answer is: Of course you are, but how closely exactly are you related? The answer to that can be found in the online database, but people might not always have the opportunity to look that up when they are for example out partying
Now, they have an app for that.  But, half a decade ago, when she published the first volume of her signature piece, they didn't.  So, there was only one way for the young Iceland men of her acquiantance to be sure that they weren't sleeping with or dating their cousins, without considerable passion killing research.  Date Aria!

So, there you have it.  Another literary mystery solved.

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