The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

      This debut novel by Alaskan native Eowyn Ivey is most charming and intriguing.  It’s a fairy tale for adults – not because it’s x-rated, mind you – just because it is so thought-provoking and deep. 

My advice is to suspend your disbelief and go along for the ride with this beautifully-written love story.  Ivey masterfully captures the brittle cold of winter and the life that faces homesteaders Jack and Mabel as they establish themselves in Alaska of the 1920’s.  Middle-aged Jack and Mabel have resigned themselves to a life of hard work.  They are too late to have a child yet they long for one. 

When the first snowfall arrives they find a moment of playfulness and build a “snow child”, complete with items of  clothing.  The next morning, the snow child is gone but amazingly they find tiny footsteps nearby. And individually, as the days go by, they catch glimpses of a small blond girl in the woods wearing some of the clothing they’d dressed their snow child in.  Did their desire for a real child so overwhelm them that their imagination “created” one? Mabel had even read a book titled The Snow Child when she was a young girl and its plot seems eerily familiar to their current circumstances.

The child, named Faina, miraculously establishes herself further into their lives, yet continues to live alone in the wilderness.  They come to love her as their daughter, even though they are almost afraid to believe that she’s real, and are sure their friends would disbelieve.

Eventually, many lives in the rural wilderness are affected by the appearance of Faina. Their lives will never be the same.

Ivey captures the essence of a snowy wilderness and its wild animals.  Even without the magical elements of the story, the book would be a fascinating portrayal of life in the early days of Alaskan development.  But it’s the magical, fairy-tale aspects that of course make the book such a success.

The Snow Child, published by Reagan Arthur Books (a division of Little, Brown & Company) is something to be savored.  Allow yourself to be transported into this mystical and magical realm and you’ll thoroughly enjoy the tale.

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