The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

“To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as your were able before it slipped like water between your fingers.”

What a beautiful story. The Snow Child is a quiet novel about an older couple, Jack and Mabel, who moves to Alaska in 1920 to restart their life. However, life in Alaska is more than difficult and it proves to be a very trying time for both Jack and Mabel, who begin to drift apart. Alaska is lonely and isolating, their closest neighbor miles away.

One particularly wintry night, Jack and Mabel build a snowman together. They bond over their “snow child” and perhaps reignite their love and friendship. The next day, the snow child has disappeared, but Mabel notices a young girl running through the woods near their home. The girl is wearing the scarf and mittens from the snow child that Mabel and Jack had built. Though Jack and Mabel ask around, no one seems to know who this girl is. A friend even suggests that it may be an illusion as a result of cabin fever.

Eventually, Mabel and Jack come in contact with the girl, Faina. Parentless, Faina becomes like a daughter to Jack and Mabel. Still, no one else seems to believe that the girl exists. Mabel remembers an old Russian fairytale her father used to read – it is about an older couple who could not have children, they build a snow child and the it comes to life.

Something I really enjoyed in this book is the parallel to this Russian fairytale. The reader doesn’t know whether Faina is real or not, and I really loved that. The characterization in this book was fantastic (and thank goodness because this is not a fast-paced read). I’ll admit that I felt a little bored half-way through. I felt that the story was dragging a little – is Faina real or not? Push through, because it really is a beautiful story and it’s one that will stay with me for a long time.

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