This was a random pick at the library and yet again, I was not disappointed. This was such a sweet, heartwarming story that I truly enjoyed.
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.
This book definitely had a fairy tale feel. Since Mabel and Jack didn’t know what to make of the child, the reader is discovering along with them. Is she a fairy from the wood? Could they really have made a child from snow? Or is it all coincidence?
I don’t think we ever get a concrete answer but do you ever in a fairy tale? It is what makes them so great. It is what makes them so magical. It is what you believe. You want to believe that this is magic and that the rational side of your brain is wrong.
This story was definitely character driven and every character played a crucial role in how the plot unfurled.
I definitely liked how Mabel and Jack grow throughout the novel and how their characters change through their interaction with Faina. Mabel grows from a grieving motherless woman, who is wracked in depression, to someone who now has something to look forward to.
I didn’t like Jack at first. I knew he was grieving in his own way for the children he never had but I felt like rather than deal with it with his wife, he ignored her. I was angry at him for the first half of the novel. However, his icy exterior begins to chip away and finally the man beneath is revealed. While Mabel’s change seemed more obvious, I did like the gradual changes Jack goes through.
I loved the neighbors, who were a bit of sunshine and fresh air in Mabel and Jacks life. I especially liked the wife, who wasn’t your typical woman of 1920. She was what you would expect of a woman who lived in the wilderness of Alaska for so long. She was also the stability that Mabel needed until she could find herself again.
The descriptions of Alaska and the wilderness were absolutely beautiful. Ivey definitely has a knack for description and I felt like I was there. I could hear the river running beneath the ice or the sound of animals in the wood, or the fire crackling in the warm cabin.
I could probably go on and on about this book but I don’t want to ruin it. It was definitely a magical read.