Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Author: Eowyn Ivey
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Content Alert: A pretty clean read, sex is implied in places but not descriptive
Jack and Mabel are at their wits' ends, both literally and figuratively. It's 1920, and after years of barrenness and not fitting in in Pennsylvania, they decide to homestead in Alaska, only to discover that Alaska is unforgiving, a place where even young people and families find it hard to get started. Mabel considers suicide, Jack considers working in the mines. Then one night, they forget their troubles and come together to build a child in the snow. The next morning, Faina appears in the wilderness with a red fox at her side. As the weeks pass, they see Faina more frequently, and begin to gain her trust, but when the last snow melts she returns to the woods. As the years pass, Faina becomes the reason for Jack and Mabel to live, and to stay. They see her as a daughter, but they're not entirely where she comes from, or why she chose them to love.
There are few books I've read that are more haunting or more beautiful than The Snow Child. Ivey, who lives in Alaska, does a wonderful job capturing the desolation of the place. I also identified so strongly with Mabel, the daughter of a professor, who feels wholly out of bounds in Alaska, and who finds a fairy tale about a snow child in a box of books her sister sends, and isn't sure whether Faina is a feral human or a fairy. The book is complicated and nebulous and wonderful. It's also the sweet story of a family bound together by love and mutual need. It's definitely worth reading, and the audio book is fabulous.