The Snow Child

The Snow Child - Wow. I've finished the book and have absolutely no idea what to rate it. It was probably one of the strangest books I have ever read and it kept me reading, but I really can't say why. Missing were the elements that I normally need to love a book or even for me to keep interest and yet I still did. Hmmm. I think I need some time and sleep to process this. 7/14/2012Okay, first I will address what I liked about the book. THE WRITING WAS EXCELLENT. I felt as if I was in the story and could picture and feel everything! It is no small feat for an author to make you feel like you are cold while sitting outside watching your kids soccer and football practices in 85-90 degree sunny weather. Seriously folks, there was one point where my feet felt like they may succumb to frostbite while reading this one! Also, my heart felt frozen as well with the emotions running through my body. The whole book just left me feeling cold like a kind of creeping frost was permeating my soul and I was constantly on edge waiting for something bad to happen. If I were judging on writing talent alone, this book would certainly get 5 stars however, I tend to rate books by the way they made me feel while reading and also, by how I came away from reading it feeling. This is where this book (once again) left me cold.I always have loved fairy tales, but it seems like the best ones have a moral or warning to the story. If I remember correctly, there was a point to Grimms Fairytales being scary and sometimes gruesome and that was to scare children from making bad decisions or doing things they shouldn't be. They were like mini life lessons or warnings, but also could be examples on how to triumph over adversity. The Snow Child is a retelling of the Russian fairytale Snegurochka where a childless elderly couple create a child out of snow and the child comes to life. The same thing happens kind of, I'm still not certain if Faina came about by the snow or was a real child who was deserted by an alcoholic father, it is never clearly explained, in this story. Jack and Mabel move to Alaska from Pennsylvania to create a life for themselves but also to get away from their families as the couple yearned for a child after having one die in childbirth and never conceiving again, the pain of seeing more children and grandchildren born every year was just too much for them bear.Upon arriving in Alaska, however, the dreams that they each had are completely different than the reality of trying to survive in the freezing land and so they each retreat deeper into themselves and further away from each other. As the story begins, Mabel has become so depressed that she unsuccessfully tries to commit suicide by walking out on the frozen river in hopes to break through the ice and drown. The couple, in a rare happy moment, decide to build a snowman at the first snow of the year and end up making it look like a child with real gloves and a scarf and drawing feminine facial features onto it and clothing. The next morning, the snowman has been destroyed, the gloves/scarf are missing, and a small child is seen by Jack running through the woods with a winter coat, moccasins, and the missing gloves and scarf on. Jack at first thinks he is seeing things and ignores it, but after awhile, it becomes apparent that there really is a child as she starts to come around, leaving little gifts for the couple and helping Jack to kill a giant Moose. This is all well and good, as the child does actually help the couple to come together and survive in the wilderness as she comes every winter and goes away once the spring comes around. I could have jived with the story if it was told as more of a magical occurence, however, there were many instances where we as readers where given little glimpses into the background of the child which would lead you to believe that she did not exist due to mystical reasons and this is where the story lost me. I would have liked to see this story veer into one path or another. It was either real or it was magic but I didn't like that we were left never knowing. Obviously there was magic to it as the child(woman) ends up melting at the end, but how can the dead man in the forest, the abandoned cabin, and the picture of Faina as a child be explained? I would have liked to see an explanation for it all. I spent much of this book trying to figure out what the explanation was for the snow child so much so, that I had come up with an alternate ending before I even got to the end and so, was really dissapointed when the story ended and there was never any reasoning for the events that occurred.So, the ending killed it for me and also, just certain points of the story that didn't make sense. I finished the book feeling like there had been no point to it and it was a major letdown seeing as I was expecting it to be slap your mama good with all of the other great reviews I had seen for it. I can see why other people would rate it higher, I mean, that writing was fantastic but I just didn't love it. The two stars are for the writing.