Challenge: Once Upon a Time
# of pages: 386
Quote: “Cradling a swaddled infant in their arms, mothers would distractedly touch their lips to their babies’ foreheads. Passing their toddlers in a hall, mothers would tousle their hair or even sweep them up in their arms and kiss them hard along their chins and necks until the children squealed with glee. Where else in life, Mabel wondered, could a woman love so openly and with such abandon?” -pg. 328
Official description: Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
My opinion: I loved this book! I can’t explain all the reasons why without spoilers, but I can say that the writing is beautiful. The characters are well developed and relatable. I loved the transitions in the book…how we are right there with Jack and Mabel as their lives change. I also felt like the novel was full of mystery. I kept imagining what would happen next and coming up with theories, but was always surprised.
I think this book encompasses several genres. It’s a retelling of a fairy tale, but also magical realism and historical fiction.
I’d love to see this book made into a movie someday. I wanted to be there. The descriptions drew me in, they are just beautiful.
It was hard to read at times. The subject of infertility and stillbirth is hard for any mother to read about, I’m sure. I know it will be even harder for those who have been through those situations. But it’s such a beautiful love story at the same time.
Why I gave this book 5/5 stars: Well written, unique story, beautiful descriptions.
Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I’d be happy to post yours as well.