Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey)

The Snow Child is Eowyn Ivey’s debut novel, and what a novel it is.  It’s one of those books that stay with you for a long time after you’re finished.  I made myself put it down after a few chapters to really let the beauty of Ivey’s prose sink in.  But whether you devour it in one sitting or continuously put it down like I did, the effect is the same.

Set in the 1920s, Mabel and Jack are a couple who move to the Alaskan wilderness.  A few years before, they lost their only baby at birth and have remained childless and grieving.  They’re hoping that Alaska provides the solace and hard work they need to move on from their loss.  However, things don’t quite work out that way, as all they feel is alone.

One day, on a whim, they build a snow child.  They’re shocked to see that the next day the child has disappeared, with tracks leading away from it.  The story, based on a Russian fairy tale, gains strength from here.  I had a vague idea of how The Snow Child might end but was surprised at the route Ivey chose to get there.  I disagreed that one character would do something that proved vital to the outcome of the story.  For that reason alone, I need to give The Snow Child a 4.

This is a novel where the review needs to stay mysterious.  I have to watch my words carefully as giving too much away would take away from the beauty of the story.  But trust me, The Snow Child is not to be missed.