We have gotten a little out of order depending on which book becomes available first and the winner this time went to my mom with her next pick. I really enjoy the prompts that leave a lot of room to enjoy a book that suits your tastes.
A book set in the wilderness: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
It is 1920 and Mable and Jack have been handed a heavy blow: their first child is still born and the grief that washes over them is complete. Being around family and watching their nieces and nephews run around is like a dagger to their heart. When Mabel reads an advertisement for cheap land in Alaska, she urges Jack to sell his stake in the family farm and move.
They find themselves in a wilderness that fights back against their attempts at taming it and every attempt to create a homestead only reminds them that they are 50 years old and without a child to help them.
Then, during the first snow of their second winter, right when Mabel thinks it would be better to drown herself in the icy river, a spark springs between the two and they build a snow girl complete with Mable’s red mittens and scarf.
The next day they are visited by a young girl in the woods wearing the mittens and scarf with icy blue eyes and skin that does not melt the snow. Storms fly around with her anger, she throws handfuls of snowflakes in the air and she leaves every spring to only return again with the next snow fall.
The burning question remains to them: is she a real orphan girl or a snow child brought to life by their longing and love?
When Mabel remembers a Russian fairy tale book depicting this very thing, she reads through her old copy with bated breath and a sickening heart.
The story dances with the fantastical: do snow sprites exist or is this just an extraordinary young girl who has learned to survive in a land that is hostile? By juxtaposing human needs and drama, like the death of a very real human father, with images of unearthly occurences, she dances over deep snow barely leaving a foot print and never sinking even when everyone else falters even in snowshoes, the author paints a picture that allows the reader to believe what they wish.
This novel left me feeling a little haunted. So many gruesome scenes of hunting and trapping animals played along with the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness left me both reeling and in awe. In truth, by the end I wanted nothing more than to pack up and head north to tempt my fate as a homesteader in the Alaskan frontier.
The theme of love lost, dreams abandoned but never fully forgotten and the desperate need for a future are hard, real and leave the reader feeling exposed. The truth behind the snow child is never fully revealed giving the reader an easy explanation for either scenario.
I highly recommend this book to all.