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Tuesday, July 11, 2017


4 stars out of 5

This book is, first, foremost and almost entirely, an in-depth study of three characters in the aftermath of the murder of small-town Colorado high-school student Lucinda Hayes. Friends Cameron and Jade loved her and wanted to be her, respectively. Russ, a police officer involved in the investigation, is connected to many of the people around her - one of whom most likely is her killer.

All four, including Lucinda, are quirky at the very least; and they all have deep, dark secrets that are revealed in chapters that switch from perspective to perspective. As an aside, this is a technique that when done well - as it is here - is very effective; but it's also one of which I've grown weary over the last couple of years as author after author has adopted the style (much like sticking the word "girl" in the title). In addition to their secrets, every single one of these boys and girls (plus a few adults) speak a language that's way beyond the world in which I live. Take teenage Jade, for instance; at one point she utters at her shower door, "I step in with my pajama shirt still on and try to rinse the dream away from my vulnerable unconscious."

Okaaaaaay. The writing can be described, I'm sure, as eloquent prose; for me, esoteric is a better fit; to say that reading it was tedious is an understatement. That's not to say it isn't a well-crafted story, mind you, but it took me longer than usual to read because it's impossible to skim (three or four chapters were about all I could handle at one sitting before my brain started to hurt). I also must say that because there's virtually no investigation to follow despite the fact that the police, and the aforementioned Russ, were called in - nor is there much real action at all since almost everything takes place inside the characters' heads - it's very interesting, but not really a thriller, a police procedural or anything much beyond looks inside the heads of some seriously screwed-up people. Fairly early on, the girl's murder - and who did it and why - became almost inconsequential (yes, I was surprised, but when that person was revealed near the end, my reaction was much closer to, "All rightee, then" than "Wow!" )

Overall, I consider this to be a stellar effort, especially for a debut novel. It's a little too "deep" for my liking - especially for a book in this genre - but impressive nonetheless. Thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka (Simon & Schuster, August 2017); 368 pp.

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