“I don’t want to be warm and safe–I want to live.”
I understood the child’s reluctance to come inside, to be warm and safe…and controlled. While the point of this story was not to discuss the emotional struggles of older adopted children, that one line summed it up beautifully. I no longer write about my children–they are both adults now–but this line could have been uttered by one of them. Today I understand it. Back then, not so much as they say now.
Mabel and Jack fulfill a long-time fantasy of mine, to homestead in Alaska. Fantasy for me due to the hard work and, today, the cost of living in Alaska, but it’s always held a strong appeal to me. I’m an introvert and quite happy alone–most of the time. While Jack was made of the stern stuff necessary to homesteading, Mable wasn’t….or so it seemed. It seemed too that Cabin Fever had taken root over a long, dark winter. Or did it….?
Esther and George and their three boys live nearby. Esther keeps a friendly eye on Mabel and her youngest son becomes a sort of nephew to Jack and Mabel. But none of them have seen the mysterious girl that Jack and Mabel say has visited them–a girl with a pet fox. A girl who lives alone in the vast wilderness. Garrett is Esther and George’s youngest son. Overshadowed by two older brothers, he finds peace and sanctuary in the wilderness.
[Photo is of the scenery that was used in the book as being around the fictional Wolverine River–photo from Letters From Alaska, the author’s blog]
Mabel has a beautiful story book from childhood–a story written in Russian that tells of an elderly couple who long for a child. They make one out of snow. Is this girl their Snow Child? Can the heat of love and the warmth and safety of home stifle, even “melt” a person?
This is an amazing well-written book, with a story as amazing as the land in which it is set. There is hunting and trapping in this story as is normal in such a setting, but could upset some people not familiar with the life. I enjoyed the many amazing descriptions of nature–of the vastness of Alaska. Mabel’s nature drawings and her descriptions of the scenes written to her sister back East will entice nature study enthusiasts to read this book. The sweetness in this book is the right kind–not cloying, never precious. Book clubs will love this too for the theme of infertility, of motherhood and marriage and how both change lives. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Did you know that The Snow Child was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2013?
For more on Alaska and the locations in this book and in Eowyn Ivey’s new book, visit her blog, Letters from Alaska.
The Fairy Tale
Here are a few picture book versions of the fable of The Snow Child to share with children or just to enjoy on your own.
The Snow Child by Freya Littledale
Little Daughter of the Snow by Arthur Ransome
The Snow Child retold by Harriet Ziefert
Here is the very lovely book trailer for The Snow Child