The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey Release Date: February 1, 2012 Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books Number of Pages: 386 Hardcover Source: Warren Public Library Historical Fiction Rating: PG Read 6/26/18 to 7/17/18
As is my usual process for my book club posts, I will post my review and then post notes from the book club meeting so you can get other views on the story. Here we go…
For some reason, I thought this was a YA book before I started reading. I really cannot tell you where I got that idea from. Let me tell you, it’s not a YA book. There isn’t a bunch of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but it has concepts that would be over the heads of most younger YA readers and I don’t think it would keep the interest of that demographic. Of course, there’s always the acceptation to the rule, but this shouldn’t be read by anyone too young (in my opinion).
Now that I have that out of the way…this was an interesting book. Quite a bit different from most books I’ve read. And really, the nature of this story keeps me from getting too into detail about almost anything. This book is not a mystery, but it’s mysterious. There’s something afoot in the Alaskan wilderness that is quite curious. Is it real? Is it snow fever or some other such malady? For much of this story, the reader is drawn on to make come to their own conclusions about the nature of the snow child.
Taking out the element of Faina (the snow child), the story of the Jack and Mabel is by turns heartbreaking and uplifting. There is such a deep and enduring love between the couple. They moved to Alaska to start a new life. Not for the reasons most do such things, but because they have had problems conceiving and Mabel really wanted to go somewhere people didn’t already know them. Where their story wasn’t known by the whole town. First, so there would be no more talk about “poor childless Mabel”, but also so she wouldn’t have to be around so many children reminding her of what she has lost in her life. Mabel is quite a depressed character and Jack is left wondering how to help his wife. Especially now that it’s just the two of them in the middle of nowhere.
When Faina shows up, there are so many dynamics to explore. Faina and Mabel, Faina and Jack, and also the change in the relationship between Mabel and Jack that occurs. The way Mabel views Faina and reacts to her is so completely different from Jack’s reactions. It’s interesting to be able to watch it all play out.
Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, so I have to keep this brief and vague. I just want to say that at times this story sucked me in and kept me intrigued. Other times it fell by the wayside and didn’t quite call to me to pick it up. In the end, I cried. I turned to my husband and told him I didn’t know if I was crying from sadness or joy. But all in all this is a lovely story.
Surprise, surprise! We actually had a full book club this time around. That almost never happens anymore. Liz was our host and we met at her new house. They moved in April and the only one in book club who had been out there yet was her sister. She used to live just a few miles from me, now she’s more like 30 miles away. Since we decided to be a bit different and meet on a weekday for dinner instead of a weekend for lunch, it took us (I carpooled with my mom and Tina) a ridiculously long time to get there…an hour and a half! It only took 35 minutes to get home during a non-traffic time though. Anyway, it was great to have us all together and to finally get a chance to see their new place.
As for the story, the overall feeling was the same I expressed. Some parts were loved and some were slow. It seemed everyone liked the book overall though. Yet there were differing opinions on what the end meant. It’s so frustrating, but it would be a HUGE spoiler if I explained that to you. What’s interesting is those that felt the ending meant one thing liked the book more than those who thought it meant another. Regardless, to each his own. Reading is a very personal experience and often how we interpret a story has a lot to do with our own upbringing and where we are in our lives at the time of the reading.
One tidbit I found fascinating was Liz’s observation of how this story reads quite a bit like a fairy tale. And it’s true. There’s an ethereal quality to the story and the writing. We all observed that the author also never uses quotation marks during conversations anyone has with Faina. This adds to the mystery and really helps leave everything open to the individual reader’s interpretation.
Okay, totally going another direction with the next book. We’ll be reading a mystery/thriller this time. Linda is our host, but per usual it will be more than a month between meetings. We’ll be meeting on Sunday, September 9. We’re reading The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian. I’d love for you to read along with us and come back to leave your thoughts in the comments. If you read The Snow Child it would be great to hear what you thought, too.