Girl in Snow My Rating:
Published by: Simon & Schuster on August 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Cliffhanger Free, Contemporary, Thillers & Suspense
Disclosure: I was invited by the publisher to read this title in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. I received no monetary compensation, and all comments are subjective and mine alone.
WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING?
When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.
Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.
Girl in Snow is the debut by Danya Kukafka. It’s labeled an adult thriller. However, I think it is suitable as a mature young adult read, as well, since two of the main characters are young adults. When I was contacted by Simon and Schuster and asked if I wanted a galley, I debated. I love books. Well, reading them, specifically. And I enjoy finding new authors. But I had so much of my own writing and editing to work on, that I really didn’t feel I had the time to devote to reviewing. Then, I read the synopsis.
The mysterious death of a small-town golden girl and the secret lives of three people connected to her: the social misfit who loved her from afar, the rebellious girl who despised her, and the policeman investigating her death… Girl in Snow investigates the razor-sharp line between love and obsession and will thrill fans of Everything I Never Told You and Luckiest Girl Alive.
Well, how was I supposed to say no to that? So here I am, staring at the computer screen, my cat dropping his toy on my desk for me to throw (yes, he plays fetch. Just like a dog), trying to gather my thoughts enough to write a somewhat logical review. I finished the book yesterday and I just can’t get the words down to explain how much I enjoyed it.
Best word: asterism
First, the writing, voice, pacing, and descriptions are wonderful. I love the author’s voice. When I first started reading, I was somewhat put off with her frequent use of choppy, fragmented sentences. But as I read, these sentences became part of the narrator’s natural voice and they flowed smoothly into the story.
The descriptions were perfect. Every scene, every place, I could picture with ease. From the description of Lucinda’s body dusted with snow on the carousel, to the mundane…
Ines slumps against the refrigerator door, next to a crusty bottle of mustard and a liter of flat Pepsi. Russ, she says again, this time an apology, a word she has knitted, soft, just for him. Behind her, a solitary bell pepper wilts in the vegetable drawer.
Disclaimer: I’m quoting from a galley, which is an unfinished copy. It will likely be edited before the book’s release and some scenes and wording may change. I’m sorry, Simon and Schuster! I know I’m not supposed to quote from the galley. But, really. How can I explain a beautifully descriptive paragraph as that? I can’t. The reader needs to read it to appreciate the way Kukafka blends the soft apology with a wilted bell pepper and a crusty bottle of mustard.
There are three main characters the reader follows in Girl in Snow. Cameron, the boy who loves her. Who plays a game he calls “Statue Nights” in which he stands like a statue outside her house at night and watches her through the windows. Creepy, yes? But, it’s not, really. Cameron is different (in case his nightly ritual didn’t clue you in) and there really isn’t anything creepy about what he’s doing in his mind. One thing I liked about Cameron: his lists.
Then there’s Jade. She’s the prerequisite bad apple. The rebel who really doesn’t have a clue what she’s rebelling against. She’s a screwed-up kid, with a screwed-up life, and just happens to hate the girl everyone loves—Lucinda. The murdered girl. We, the readers, get to travel with Jade over the course of the few days the book spans and watch her make revelations about herself, her life, and the people around her.
And I remember what Cameron said, about places you go when you’re feeling locked inside yourself, and I go there—not for me, or Zap, or even Cameron. For her. This stupid, perfect girl with the inexplicable misfortune of being dead. I go because I am alive, and she is not, and there must be some cosmic reason for this.
Disclaimer: I wasn’t supposed to quote that. I really do apologize Simon and Schuster, but it was too great of a paragraph not to.
One quirk I enjoyed about Jade was the screenplay she was writing titled: What You Want To Say But Can’t Without Being A Dick
Finally, there’s Russ. He’s a middle-aged, or there about, police officer. I don’t really think the reader is given his age. If so, I don’t remember. And that’s Russ. Unmemorable. Not because Kukafka did a poor job of writing his character. No, she wrote him wonderfully, but Russ himself is forgettable. I think even he knows this. And of all the characters, I think I felt the sorriest for Russ. He searched for himself, like all three characters did. But, it took him the longest to discover who he really was. And, in some ways, it was already too late. No, I’m not saying more. You have to read the book.
Funniest line: The potted plant behind her head sprouted up like alien hair. (Cameron)
The characters were well-developed. And even though the book only spans the course of a few days, there is a definite and noticeable growth in each of them. They each learn something about themselves, their world, or both. They are wonderfully flawed and real and relatable. And if the book goes through another round of edits before the finished copy is released, I hope the author and editors are careful not to lose one speck of personality from any of them.
The story itself… the plot, well, there just isn’t much I can say, other than I enjoyed it a great deal and when I wasn’t reading, I worried something would happen while I was away. When I first began the book, there seemed to be a lot of description or mention of things that, I felt, helped frame a scene or give it depth, but otherwise didn’t add anything to the story. Oh, so wrong. Everything comes together in the end. The author doesn’t waste words on unnecessary things. So, if a dog is barking, pay attention. Because at some point in the story, that dog’s bark will play a pivotal role. And that’s all I can say without including spoilers. And really, Girl in Snow is a book readers need to experience themselves. That’s how the author intended it to be. Reading a watered-down review just isn’t the same. So, read the book.
Bottom line: Girl in Snow was a huge surprise. I enjoyed it more than I anticipated I would. Every sentence was beautifully written and had a purpose. When I reached the end, each thread was woven together beautifully and answered every question—some I didn’t even know I had. And I realized that even the tiniest of things played a huge role. It was a twisty maze of a thriller that also gave a glimpse into the minds of three very different people who struggled with the same question: who am I, really? If this is what Kukafka produces for a debut, I can’t wait to see what she releases next.
And since I’ve already broken Simon and Schuster’s rule about quoting from the galley, I’m going to include one of my favorite passages. I hope it isn’t changed during editing.
Pine Ridge Point was like the middle of your favorite song—between the bridge and the chorus, where you held your breath and waited for the inevitable boom of music to take you away. Wind rustled through the branches of the pine trees, soft hands on sharp needles. Everything converged in a rattle, a hum, a combination of consonant melodies, a series of songs for Lucinda.
Hey, everyone! Don’t forget to check out my latest novel, The Stock, at Swoon Reads! You can read it for free, along with other great books! Then, cast your vote for it to when a publishing contract with Swoon Reads, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing. I’d be so grateful! Happy reading!