The Snow Child

The Snow Child

A Novel

Book - 2012
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In this magical debut, 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.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780316175678
0316175676
Characteristics: 389 p. ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Snow child

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From Library Staff

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead--and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart. 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, blon... Read More »


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l
lyndasclater
Mar 08, 2021

A fairy tale for adults! So good! Could not put it down!

z
zimmleanna
Feb 18, 2021

A beautifully written, moving tale. I enjoyed every second. I can't even begin to imagine why anyone would give it a rating of less than 5. I would give it a 6 if I could. The prose was superb, the story moving--a magical tale that brings home truths of the heartache that can come with children, but more importantly, the joy, even amidst sorrow. A truly exceptional book.

This book was just what I needed right now. I read it with the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. I never miss a chance to put a plug in for Anne Bogel who has the podcast, What Should I Read Next and member supported MMD website. I started "Snow Child" with a group of readers not knowing if it would be a DNF for me because it wasn't a genre I normally want to read. It is consider Historical Fiction, which I really do enjoy, but it was also a fantasy. However, it became a wonderful escape for me to get back to the book and live in the story. I don't want to put out any spoilers so can't say an awful lot. But it was fun trying to figure out where the little girl in the story came from in this wilderness setting. Great book. I would highly recommend it if someone wants a tender story with a lot of imagination.

i
IntrovertReader
Jan 27, 2021

Jack and Mabel always expected to have a large family. But the years passed and they had only one stillborn child. Mabel’s broken heart can’t tolerate being around her siblings and their large families any longer so she and Jack decide to move to Alaska.

But life is still hard in Alaska, especially during the long, dark winters. When the first snowstorm of the season arrives, Jack and Mabel playfully build a snow girl, complete with coat, mittens, and a sweet smile. Imagine their astonishment when they find that the snow girl has vanished overnight and small footprints lead away into the woods.

I enjoyed this but as a woman who has chosen not to have children, I don’t think it speaks to me the same way it speaks to mothers or those who long to hold little ones in their arms. But even I found Mabel and Jack’s plight heartbreaking and rushed to find out exactly what was going on with the little snow girl. Was she magic? Was she an orphan who coincidentally found the childless couple on the night they built a snow girl?

“We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different, we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?”

The combination of the harsh frontier life, the magic of the snow girl (was it magic?), and the vivid descriptions of the beautiful Alaskan scenery kept me turning pages.

There are a few scenes that might be triggers for some readers, as noted in the details above. I otherwise recommend it for readers who are looking for a touch of magic in a long, cold winter.

a
Alpha_zzz
Dec 13, 2020

Definitely a fantastical book. The author’s writing style was very good, and most of the time, created the impression that you were actually there. I guess, when I think of how cold Alaska is, this did not drum up a comfortable feeling for me. More than anything, I thought it was great to learn about the Alaska environment.

j
jennab4
Nov 18, 2020

(4.5 stars)This book is so beautifully written! On almost every page there was a paragraph that I wanted to quote in order to share how amazingly eloquent the writing is. The story of a middle aged couple, Jack & Mabel, who move to Alaska in the 20's, and set-up a homestead in the middle of nowhere as an escape from their own personal demons. On the night of the first snowfall they build a snowchild who comes to life (perhaps).

This book reads like a fairytale (some parts were magical), and for the first half of the book I was completely enamored. The characters were well developed, and reading about life on a homestead in Alaska in the 20's was fascinating (with the exception of the treatment of animals, which appalled me). At about the halfway mark my interested waned slightly.

The reason I didn't give this book 5 stars was the ending (although I believe that it may have been the author's intention to leave the ending a little open in order to allow the reader to come to their own conclusions on Faina). Personally, I was hoping for a bit more closure and explanation. She'd written this whole book with such amazing descriptiveness, the ending could have used more.

l
lkim17
Sep 20, 2020

In a twist on the age old fairy tale, The Snow Child, written by Eowyn Ivey, follows the story of Jack and Mabel, a couple in Alaska, who are childless and slowly getting distanced from each other because of it. However, after building a snow child from the season’s first snowfall, the couple meet a young girl, Faina, who had survived in the wilderness by herself. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand where she came from as well as the parallels between her and the titular fairy tale, Ivey blends between the fictional and real to create a mesmerizing novel that captures the attention of all readers. This novel drew me in and kept me hooked the entire time. Not only was the plot well written, but the characters’s complexity and personalities were equally as good. This novel, though a slow start at first, becomes an unforgettable book that stays with you months after reading. I would recommend this to those who are fond of fairy tale twists and those who like reading about the wilderness.

s
sstangebye
Dec 27, 2019

Source: One great book - Anne Bogel

c
CJTroffe
Nov 18, 2019

This book surprised me with how good it was. The descriptions of the beauty, horror and deep loneliness of the Alaska wilderness was so completely immersive that when the Snow Child appears, she is welcome and believable. I found myself falling in love with her, regardless of who or what she was. We see the transformation of a couple as they become parents, and I could relate to their journey into parenthood and family. It does not matter that it is through unconventional means. This book is about love in all its forms: love of children, siblings, family, friendship, romantic love; love and forgiveness of oneself, and love of the natural world. I strongly recommend it!

e
EljayJohnson
Jul 14, 2019

Beautifully written, engaging and magical story. It kept me off kilter in the best possible way. Amazingly accomplished for a first novel.

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lkim17
Sep 20, 2020

lkim17 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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