The author seeds a rich plot woven of dramatic family interactions with real-life, local-to-Maine hot topics, like the unlikely presence of a large Somali community within economically-depressed and homogeneous Lewiston, Maine (the old mill town upon which the novel’s fictional setting is based). The story moves at a fast clip and resolves so satisfactorily (a real accomplishment in a time of often-disappointing conclusions), with a big truth revealed, certain characters getting their comeuppance, and others finding redemption or peace.
My second favorite was Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, a novel that tackles climate change in a compelling but not story-clobbering way. Set in present-day Appalachia, Kingsolver’s novel serves up a strong female lead in the person of Dellarobia Turnbow, who finds herself trapped in a way-too-small life with a sweet but slow hulk of a husband.
Monarch butterflies by the millions suddenly appear in her small mountain town, a cohort of scientists moves in, and over the course of events Dellarobbia blossoms into the sort of capable and confident woman who’s bound to land a bigger life.
The author’s depiction of Alaska’s pristine landscape bowled me over (wolves, wolverines, bears, moose, icy waters, looming peaks, killing cold), but I was less compelled by the elusive Faina (I admit I am fantasy-resistant), whose pale presence nevertheless constitutes the novel's central question: is she real flesh-and-blood or the fairy-tale snow child of the book's title?
~Ann, Adult Services