Grad school is heating up. I just had my first full week, and I’m discovering that there is a lot of reading. A lot, a lot. I made it through a 150 page paper today about trends in audio preservation, digitization and copyright law, but I don’t think I’ll review that one for you. I think its appeal may be limited.
I also was just offered a TA position in which I’ll be reading and grading hundreds of engineering lab reports. I won’t be writing about those here either, for a plethora of obvious reasons.
So, that all being said, my reading for pleasure time is going to be limited. As it is one of my main relaxation methods, I’m going to shoehorn it in somehow, but now I’ll be aiming for one pleasure read a week, instead of the two and up that I usually do.
This week was a great one:
The Snow Child by Eowyn (yes she is named after the Lord of the Rings character) Ivey
Part fairy tale, part historical fiction, part study of familial relationships, this premier novel is an absolute marvel.
Jack and Mabel move from the east coast in the 1920′s to the wilds of Alaska, to escape old hurts and family ties. They find Alaska harder to manage than they expected, and Mabel particularly begins to drown in depression and loneliness. In a moment of rare levity, they build a child out of snow since they could never have one on their own. The next day, they see a little girl and her pet fox running through the forest. Did they just create their own child?
Guys. I know that horrible, sappy looking The Odd Life of Timothy Green movie is out right now, and my description of The Snow Child kind of sounds like the same plot. DO NOT WRITE IT OFF. Really. The characters in this novel really pull at the heart, but in a real, imperfect, non-Disney way. They are at times gruff, sometimes self-pitying, closed off, but also loving, sacrificing and proud. They are pioneers. They are struggling farmers. They are completely ill-prepared and bumbling. They are human.
And the setting! I’ve never been to Alaska, but the way it’s portrayed here makes me simultaneously ready to jump on a plane and terrified of its vast wildness. It is gorgeous, but all the characters rely on its mercy. Blizzards jump up out of no where. Ice over rivers can break. Animals are unpredictable. And yet, it is still beautiful.
“As Jack knelt in the bloody snow, he wondered if that was how a man held up his end of the bargain, by learning and taking into his heart this strange wilderness—guarded and naked, violent and meek, tremulous in its greatness.”