Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka
"It makes you wonder doesn't it- how its possible to be a secondary character in your own story." p.220
Goodness gracious, this book. Where should I begin? I mean honestly. Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka is such a brilliantly written journey from page one to the final turn of the last page I don't know what to say other than simply READ IT. And I can't say enough how much I appreciate Simon Books for sending me this copy (along with that super cute snow globe!!! heart eyes!). I've had my eye on Girl in Snow since the Spring, getting more and more excited as the release date (August 1st!) marched closer. I don't often feel that way about books or upcoming releases, but this one really struck me from the first time I read a summary and I just knew it was going to be something special. All I can say is, well done Danya Kukafka!! This book is one of my favorites of the year, by far!
I must admit, I was slightly surprised by the direction this story took (from the small amount of reviews I read prior as well as the summary, I took it to be a thriller/murder mystery in a small town). And it was, a murder mystery for sure, but oh man Girl in Snow is much much more than that. To its bones, a character study of who we are when we aren't putting on a show for those around us, who we are when in the dark of our bedroom alone or hiding in the bathroom. Who we are when we think no one is watching, essentially, when our thoughts are free to roam unfettered.
Girl in Snow spans a few days, beginning with the discovery of a girl, Lucinda, murdered and left in the snow of the school playground. From there we meet our trio of characters: Cameron, the boy who silently watched Lucinda, stood outside of her house at night and drew her face over and over from memory because he loved her so much. Jade, the friend/not friend who shared a babysitting job with Lucinda and has done her fair share of watching from her own bedroom window. And finally, Russ, the cop who has an emotional history with Cameron's father and is placed on the case to find Lucinda's murderer.
One of the best things about Girl in Snow is how these three characters end up entwined, affecting each other's lives in seemingly small and then ultimately large ways at the culmination of the story. Each character is written in such a way that seeing so vividly inside their minds, their thoughts and feelings uncensored, makes you root for them. I crossed my fingers that neither Cameron, Russ or Jade had anything to do with Lucinda's death. By the end I felt they were each deserving of finding their own happiness and place in the world.
I pictured their neighborhood and the adjoining school almost like a movie set, with characters moving through and around each other while the story unfolds, the mountains of Colorado peaked in the distance and everything bathed in a blueish purple light reflected off the snow. I really feel that Kukafka did a remarkable job not only creating this setting which on the surface seems pretty standard/nothing special, just a small town, but in her way giving it its own life and color. Kukafka's writing was truly one of my favorite things about this book.
I also appreciated very much that after the murderer is brought to light, the story doesn't end there. We keep reading, seeing the characters in the aftermath of this news and how it affects each of them. I loved that. So many standard "thrillers" leave you right when the murder is solved and the bad guy taken away. More meaningful than any other part of this story to me was the chance we are given as the reader to continue following the characters we've been getting to know for the last three hundred pages, past the standard "ending", and further along their respective journeys.
I rated Girl in Snow 4.5 stars on Goodreads.
Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
Simon and Schuster