Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
I’ve always loved fairy tale adaptations (Jane Yolen, Robin McKinley, Patricia Wrede) and The Snow Child is among the best, perhaps in a class by itself. The Snow Child is a retelling of a Russian fairy tale set in the wild and isolated Alaskan frontier in the 1920s. Ivey stunningly describes the land, the snow and the extreme hardships of trying to make a life there. Mabel and Jack have settled in Alaska to try and escape the sadness and grief of their life in Pennsylvania. One night they create a child out of snow, and the next morning ethereal child Faina enters their lives. Is she an orphan fending for herself in the forest or the creation of Mabel and Jack? I had a little trouble at this point, constantly wondering, "Is she real?" but I eventually stopped questioning and just enjoyed the story.
For me, this book was mainly about parenthood (biologic or not), with all its multiple joys and heartbreaks. Particularly poignant is Mabel's intense longing for a child, with her heavy and heartbreaking feelings and actions. Mabel's and Jack's recognition of their motherhood and fatherhood, the mistakes they may have made and experiences they may have missed in truly becoming parents are also beautifully written. There are some achingly wonderful and sad moments when Jack in particular sees Faina as the person she truly is and no longer the image of a child he has held in his mind. This book is magical, realistic, harsh, beautiful and well worth listening to.
This is the perfect prequel to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, giving readers a better understanding of who Ajax Penumbra is and how he came to own the 24-hour bookstore. Just as interesting as Mr. Penumbra in this story is how Robin Sloan writes about San Francisco and its history. Sadly, this one was over far too soon; I'm hoping Mr. Sloan will write more about Ajax Penumbra, his life, and his bookstore.
The people at the post office, grocery store, and library probably think I'm crazy because as I approached the last hour of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I simply couldn't stop listening, but I also couldn't stop crying. Not sobbing hysterically, just tears running down my face continually because of the bare truths made evident in this novel:
~It's always necessary.
Oskar Schell is a nine-year old whose father has been lost in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Oskar is curious, inquisitive, and truthful, characteristics which make his life interesting, difficult, humorous, and painful. ELIC is the story of Oskar's quest to find the lock to match the key he believes his father has left for him. Both his grandfather and grandmother tell their stories in chapters entitled "Why I'm Not Where You Are" and "My Feelings" respectively. As soon as Oskar asked, "Why didn’t he say goodbye?" and "Why didn’t he say I love you?" I knew I had to finish the book. I have had those same questions, and felt like a nine-year old when trying to answer them. I don't know if answers are forthcoming, but the search for answers is worthwhile and necessary.
I approached this book with a bit of trepidation because I tried to read the print version several years ago and couldn't get past the formatting. This time I listened to it; I don't think I lost anything by not having access to the blank pages, pictures, and words on top of each other in the print version, and gained quite a bit of understanding by simply hearing the book read. This is not a book that I thought would translate well to audio, but for me it was a huge improvement.