I’m grateful to the ever-lovely Amy Sonnischsen for letting me know about Eowyn Ivey‘s The Snow Child. This book kept me reading late into the night and had me obsessively reflecting early the next morning.
The story is about a childless couple, Jack and Mabel. They build a child out of snow. The next morning, their creation is gone. But a child of the woods, who calls herself Faina, finds her way to them.
It’s a simple tale, based on a fairytale in fact, but not so straight-forward because it is rendered with a veiled simplicity. The story is as harsh and beautiful as the wild Alaskan landscape Ivey paints. She walks a thin, ice-crack line between magic and realism. It wind-soars with the beauty of childhood itself, then reminds us how fleeting childhood truly is. Questions haunt and linger, keep our hearts beating with wonder. What is real? What is imagined? Does it matter, really, in the end?
This book, for me, was magic. Some books create a stirring within me, a whisper in my heart. I wish I had written this, I think. It’s not jealousy. It’s a feeling hard to express. An ache that says, if only this book were mine, not just as I read it or hold it or think of it tomorrow or next year or forever. But if it were inherently mine. I felt that way about this book.
I read The Snow Child before and after a snowy hike of my own. When I reached the peak and turned around, there was, I kid you not, a little rose-cheeked girl with white-blonde hair sitting in the snow. She leaned against a birch tree. She held a sandwich in her tiny hands. She was chaperoned, of course. Not the wild wood creature I wanted to imagine. But I couldn’t believe the strange and wonderful way this book had come true for me.