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The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Saturday, January 21, 2012
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Goodreads Summary

This is one book worth marking as a to-read for 2012!  Jack and Mabel married a little on the late side and experienced a miscarriage.  The sad couple moved to Alaska and tried to bury their unhappiness over their inability to have children.  One night, when the two are particularly sad and feeling a little frivolous, they build a snow girl, complete with all of the fixings.  The next day, the snow child is gone and footprints are left in her place.  The couple do think that this is a little odd, but they must always focus on their own jobs and the event begins to drift from their minds. 

When the two are going about their business, they begin to see these glimpses of a girl in the woods.  It is interesting for the reader to try to decide whether there may be some magic or if the whole event is just a coincidence, the author leaves this up to the readers' imagination.  The author manages to convince the reader that the girl is wild, free, and slightly lonely.  The young girl, Faina, is certainly a strong main character, but she feels more like a wisp of a character at times-many scenes do not even require her presence, but the reader remembers her nonetheless.  The other characters help pull the novel together and move the plot along, they are fun to get to know. 

The setting was richly described, the author is very good at painting a picture in the readers' mind.  The mystery of Faina will remain in the readers' mind long after finishing this book, the mark of a good author is to leave the reader thinking about his/her book long after finishing it.  The shift between the real and the magical is barely there, but the reader is always aware of the dividing line, but likely will vacillate between either side.  This book is highly recommended to young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

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