Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Snow Child: A Novel / Eowyn Ivey / 388 pgs / Literary/Mainstream

Jack and Mabel live in the wilderness of Alaska in the 1920s. They moved there after the death of their baby. It is a lonely and hard existence. So much so the two of them have stopped talking to each other and to themselves. During a gentle snowstorm one night, the two of them build a snowman and dress it as a child. The next morning the snowman has been destroyed but there are footprints leading off into the deep woods. What follows isn't a straight forward fairy tale but there are enough elements to make the reader think there may be some magic left in the world after all.

Based on a Russian fairy tale, this debut novel is a stunner. The descriptions of Alaska and how cold is it (Hello, Polar Vortex!) help the reader understand the isolation of the place. What the snow person is and what she becomes is left up to the reader. Jack and Mabel have some neighbors that are part comic relief and part teacher. When these families begin to break down the barriers both mental and physical they begin a trek down a trail full of love and heartache. Excellent to read with a roaring fire going in the fireplace.

Reading connections: No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel, Mary Coin by Marisa Silver.

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