So it’s been awhile since I last read a novel. Even now that sounds so very indulgent…I think the last time I had chunks of free time to read, I was in the final trimester of pregnancy, and was reading Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth, and Chopra’s Guide to Holistic Childbirth. After Finnegan came into my world, little blurbs of time were spent scouring various child development books, checking milestones and looking ahead to what we could expect in the upcoming months. Now that things have begun leveling out (sometimes) with regard to household management (um, I mean Domestic Goddess rituals), Mommy-ing, and Mommy time, I ran into this gem of a novel at the library, and fell in love. The only difficult part was having to put it down when I heard the distinct rumblings of Finn waking up from nap time.
Eowyn Ivey’s Snow Child is part historical fiction about homesteading life in Alaska during the 1920’s, and part folktale based on a Russian myth of a “Snow Maiden” found in the story. In it, Mabel and Jack have relocated to the harsh Alaskan landscape, in search of a new start after a tragic loss of an only child during the last trimester of pregnancy. Despair, exhaustion and melancholy is taking hold of them both, but in a brief moment of happiness they create a small snow child. The next morning, the child is gone, however, they begin noticing a small girl flitting about the forest, able to survive in the woods by herself. As the story unfolds, it becomes a tale of desperate longing to believe in hope and renewal. It also shows the evolution that parents must go through of wanting to care for and protect their children, but ultimately the need to believe in their capabilities. It also reveals the hardest thing to do, as a parent: to release them to the universe to create their own lives and happiness. It is a tale of such sorrow, but ultimately of such hope, that will make you cling to your loved ones with ferocity. Darkly whimsical, while being true to the brutal realities of early homesteading life in Alaska, it will haunt you long after you put it down. If you happen to also be from Alaska, it will make you proud of the roots that have been put down by those who came before you as well. I'm so glad that the first indulgent use of my time was reading this book.