||2012 Powell's Staff Top 5s
In the 1920s, married couple Jack and Mabel leave their home in Pennsylvania and travel to Alaska to homestead a farm. Still grieving the loss of their stillborn child years before, Jack and Mabel are faced with the inhospitable land and deadly weather of Alaska. Their marriage begins to unravel; Mable feels lost and alone, while Jack struggles under the unrelenting workload. In a rare moment of levity, on the night of the first snowfall, Jack and Mabel sculpt a snow child. The next morning they discover the statue destroyed and find footsteps leading away from the wreckage, but none to it. They slowly begin to realize just what they have set in motion, and both are terrified, yet hopeful, for the outcome. Both lyrical and magical, The Snow Child is a haunting, bittersweet, lovely read. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart — he struggling to maintain the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone — but they glimpse a young 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 and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel come to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they begin to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent territory things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform them all.
"Magical … As real and mysterious as winter’s first snowflake." Boston Globe
"Sad as the story often is, with its haunting fairy-tale ending, what I remember best are scenes of unabashed joy." Ron Charles, Washington Post
"A magical yet brutally realistic tale." O, the Oprah Magazine
"The Snow Child keeps the once-upon-a-time quality of a fairy tale while just skating the edge of magical realism." Christian Science Monitor
"Ivey’s writing captures an Alaska that is at least as strong as any of the characters challenging the wilderness. She writes lyrically and lovingly of hardship, friendships, and the bond between neighbors." Denver Post
"A fluid, absorbing, beautifully executed debut novel; highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"If Willa Cather and Gabriel Garcia Marquez had collaborated on a book, The Snow Child would be it. It is a remarkable accomplishment a combination of the most delicate, ethereal, fairytale magic and the harsh realities of homesteading in the Alaskan wilderness in 1918. Stunningly conceived, beautifully told, this story has the intricate fragility of a snowflake and the natural honesty of the dirt beneath your feet, the unnerving reality of a dream in the night. It fascinates, it touches the heart. It gallops along even as it takes time to pause at the wonder of life and the world in which we live. And it will stir you up and stay with you for a long, long time." Robert Goolrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife
"The Snow Child is enchanting from beginning to end. Ivey breathes life into an old tale and makes it as fresh as the season' s first snow. Simply lovely." Keith Donohue, New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Child
In this magical debut -- a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize -- a couple's lives are changed forever by the arrival of a little girl, wild and secretive, on their snowy doorstep.
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.
About the Author
Eowyn LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. She received her BA in journalism and minor in creative writing through the honors program at Western Washington University, studied creative nonfiction at the University of Alaska Anchorage graduate program, and worked for nearly 10 years as an award-winning reporter at the Frontiersman newspaper. This is her first novel.