As Simple as Snow

( 25 )


Anna—who prefers to be called Anastasia—is a spooky and complicated high school girl with a penchant for riddles, Houdini tricks, and ghost stories. She is unlike anyone the narrator has ever known, and they make an unlikely, though happy, pair. Then Anna disappears, leaving behind only a dress near a hole in the frozen river, and a string of unanswered questions. Desperate to find out what happened the narrator begins to reconstruct the past five months. And soon the fragments of curious events, intimate ...

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As Simple as Snow

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Anna—who prefers to be called Anastasia—is a spooky and complicated high school girl with a penchant for riddles, Houdini tricks, and ghost stories. She is unlike anyone the narrator has ever known, and they make an unlikely, though happy, pair. Then Anna disappears, leaving behind only a dress near a hole in the frozen river, and a string of unanswered questions. Desperate to find out what happened the narrator begins to reconstruct the past five months. And soon the fragments of curious events, intimate conversations, secrets, letters—and the anonymous messages that continue to arrive—coalesce into haunting and surprising revelations that may implicate friends, relatives, and even Anna herself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This strange tale manages to creep under your skin, and to stay there for some time."—People

"The writing is compelling; the pace as swift as that water churning under the ice."—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A story about young love, suffused with mystery and magic . . . an absorbing read."—The Des Moines Register

"This rich, complex puzzle is the work of a talented author."—Publishers Weekly

"An intriguing debut."—School Library Journal

"Oddly mesmerizing . . . it's teasing foreshadowings and forbodings make it hard to forget."—Booklist

"Galloway does an excellent job of building suspense."—Library Journal

"One of the best books I've read in a long, long time."-Kaye Gibbons

Publishers Weekly
It turns out that snow is "actually very complicated," and so is Galloway's quirky, engrossing debut. In a small town near a river not far from a city, the narrator, an unnamed high school sophomore, encounters new Goth arrival, Anna Cayne. Holden Caulfield meets the Blair Witch, perhaps-but our narrator is more sympathetic and Anna more fascinating than their counterparts. The narrator is unsure why anyone would pursue him ("I'm bland. I'm milk. Worse, I'm water"), but pursue him Anna does, charming him with intriguing postcards, reading recommendations and long walks by the river. He's soon completely, hopelessly in love. But halfway through the story Anna disappears, leaving the narrator and the reader feeling lost and betrayed. The book becomes a search for Anna, complete with ciphers, codes, sightings and buried maps. Does affable art teacher Mr. Devon have something to do with her disappearance? Who was really driving the night fellow student Bryce Druitt slammed his car into the side of the bridge? Galloway makes plain from the beginning that everything in the book might be a clue, and that it's up to the narrator and the reader to solve the mystery for themselves. This can be great fun or lead to great frustration, depending on one's tastes, but there's no doubt that this rich, complex puzzle is the work of a talented author. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Snow, of course, is not really simple, and this clever first novel enmeshes its characters in situations that are more complex than they first appear to be. As related by an unnamed teenage boy, the suspenseful, open-ended plot concerns strange occurrences during an eventful winter in a seemingly quiet community. The possibly unreliable narrator is struggling through a lonely and rather bland adolescence until a new girl in his school's Goth crowd becomes interested in him romantically. Anna is anything but bland: she adores wordplay, odd facts, obscure jokes, ciphers, codes, the paranormal, and practical magic (especially the escape illusions of Harry Houdini), and her hobby is drafting obituaries for everyone in town. When she suddenly goes missing and is presumed dead, her heartsick boyfriend ponders her fate. An accident, surely-or was it? Suicide? Murder? Could Anna have run away? Why was her dress laid out so neatly near a hole in the ice? What about the bruises she tried to hide? Are her parents really grieving? Could a favorite teacher be involved? Though some readers may be frustrated when most questions remain unanswered, others will find their inner Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy stimulated by the abundant ambiguities, coincidences, and clues scattered throughout. An intriguing debut.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Engagingly written debut about a mysterious teenage girl's disappearance, and more's the pity: if Galloway were less sure and fluent, readers would be less likely to jump through his hoops before realizing he didn't know why they were doing it, either. Anastasia (Anna) Cayne transfers to Hamilton High and hangs out with the Goths, but the story's unnamed narrator-boyfriend (an angsty teenager down on hypocrisy, we'll call him Holden for convenience) discovers that the only resemblance between the Goths and Anna is the black mascara they both wear. Anna is accessorized with-if not completely composed of-a full set of cool outsider cultural tics. She spends her time writing fanciful obituaries for everyone in town; she introduces boyfriend Holden to Houdini, Poe, Rimbaud, Lovecraft, and Ambrose Bierce; plays him indie-rock music and shortwave broadcasts of mysterious counting voices; sends him messages in code, mysterious phrases, puzzles, and maps. Much remains unexplained about her even as she makes The Spooky and Unexplained part of Holden's life. Where did her bruises come from? Why doesn't her father have eyebrows? What was Anna's involvement in the car crash of loutish alpha Goth, Bryce? Why doesn't she like Mr. Devon, Holden's favorite teacher? When Anna disappears, her dress neatly laid out beside a hole in an ice-covered river, even more questions arise. Why was there a condom wrapper under Anna's couch, when Holden knew he'd disposed of his? Is Anna dead? Is she sending him messages, or is that just wishful thinking? Are the messages from the other side, or just from another town? Where did Holden's drug-dealing best friend go for two weeks? Why did Mr. Devon lie about where he'smoving? Did the TV psychic really contact Anna? Who knows? And who cares? Like the puzzles and codes Anna sends, the questions either go unresolved, or if answered, lead nowhere. A pointless exercise that might work for the "I challenge you with my shocking style" YA crowd.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780147515810
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 4/21/2015
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 407,165
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Galloway received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He is the author of As Simple as Snow, winner of the Alex Award, and The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand.

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Read an Excerpt

Good-bye to Everyone

Anna Cayne had moved here in August, just before our sophomore year in high school, but by February she had, one by one, killed everyone in town. She didn't do it all by herself—I helped with a few, including my best friend—but still, it was no small accomplishment, even if it was a small town.
  She captured all of these lives and deaths in fourteen black-jacketed composition notebooks. By the time she has finished, there were more than 1,500 obituaries, on just under 2,800 handwritten pages. The lives she wrote about were real, all true, but the deaths were fictions she invented, an average of around eight a day. "I'm not predicting the future," she said, "but it's only a matter of time before everyone catches up to me."
  She had known things about people, or had discovered them—the secrets and private information that showed up in her notebooks were things that people who had spent their entire lives in our town didn't know. The funny thing is, during the months when the bodies were piling up in the imagination of Anna Cayne, I don't think a single person actually died in town; it was the longest drought for the funeral home that anyone could remember.
  The obituaries were private; her friends and a few other people knew that Anna was working on them, but besides me, I don't believe anyone else was allowed to read them. She must have started the project on her very first day in town, the day I saw her sitting on the front lawn of her new home, writing in one of her notebooks as the rest of us stood with her parents, watching their belongings parade from thelong yellow truck into the house. And after she had written the last page almost seven months later, she was gone.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2012

    If you are not a fan of ambiguity, stay away

    I thought this book was excellent not despite the fact it gave no clear-cut answers, but because of that. There are enough hints in the story to piece together what happened, but nothing is explicitly stated, and some things are left in the dark entirely. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    Hate the ending

    I loved this book to begin with and then reached the end and wad baffled. There is no closure to the story and none of the questions are answered. I think the concept was creative but i did not like the way it was presented. I do all though think it is clever that you never know the main characters name. He leaves hints and if you look closely you will find tha its the authors own name.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Simple yet Complicated

    The author starts off strong, leads us on and then gives us an ending that leaves you to wonder if he ran out of creativity.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book :)

    I picked up this book after a friend insisted I read it. It starts of rather slow (not boring, just slow) but quickly gains momentum. It is one of the, er, more eccentric books I've read. It doesn't have a truly defined plot line, and I don't think we ever learn the narrators name. But, it is without a doubt, one of the better books I've read.

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  • Posted March 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    have no words

    really great book but what i didnt expect was the ending it could of been better at least in my opinion. it keeps you guessing the whole way through. the author just plays with your mind leaves you with questions and never really answers them but it was a great book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2009

    She Killed Everyone In Town And Left Without A Trace.

    This is a story about a gothic teenage girl named Anna Cayne who changes the life of a teenage guy. Anna wasn't your average teenage girl. She always wore black and wrote obituaries for fun. He was a normal boy with no real goals or strong views in life. He actually didn't think much about himself either. Since Anna moved to town everything he knew changed. Not only had his life changed but everyone around him as well. Now find out how something so simple can be so complicated in the life of a teenage boy.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Simply simple

    As Simple as Snow is touted as anything but simple, full of mystery and subtle sorcery. For most readers over a certain age, however, (let's place it high at 35), it's nothing more than a slight twist on the typical, angst filled coming of age story. Ordinary, self-consciously unimaginative boy meets intellectual, ostentatiously quirky girl. She lures him with enigmatic word and number games, he falls into sophomore- year love with her, then she up and disappears. The town is frantic, thinking she's been murdered, but the enigmatic games continue in the form of cryptic messages, while taxpayers' money goes down the drain. Not surprising in the world of adolescents, the boy's only other friend also disappears. While this plot, for a while, generates interest as to their fates, what passes for resolution is, annoyingly, merely more questioning and angst. At the end of the interlude, a period of about six months, the boy has matured into a whole new identity because of what this girl taught him, and by implication, will grow into literary and personal greatness. The unnamed sophomore is a nicer kid than Holden Caulfield, but the drama's the same. Recommended for the "young adult" genre.

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  • Posted January 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:


    This is one of the greatest books I have read; one of my top 10. I loved it all but the ending because I am the kind of girl who, when I¿m done reading and I close the book, I¿d like to feel complete; final. I don¿t like to end up asking questions after questions after I¿m done reading, which is what happened when I had finished reading As Simple as Snow. However, I still recommend this book to anyone in high school, anyone who likes the unexpected, or anyone who just loves to read.<BR/> This book is full of mystery, romance, and magic. This story is told through the words of a sophomore boy in high school. What¿s unique about this book is that the name of the narrator is NEVER mentioned, although the narrator¿s girlfriend gives us hints of what his name could be. Even his parents¿ names aren¿t mentioned.<BR/> This book is about the boy who falls in love with the new girl in town, but this new girl is no other typical teenage girl. I find her as unique as the book itself, and the narrator is drawn to her as well. She is into ¿riddles, Houdini tricks, and ghost stories¿. And one day, just a week before Valentine¿s Day, she does a Houdini and disappears. All that is left is her dress neatly placed next to a hole in the frozen river. A string of unanswered questions follows, and the narrator is desperate to find her, or at least understand what had happened and why.<BR/> Gregory Galloway, the author of As Simple as Snow, immediately draws you in and captures you in just the first sentence of the book. And by the end of the book, you would feel lost, uncertain, and have the attempt to answer those unanswered questions. It¿s not truly as big of a page-turner as the Twilight series, but it is a page-turner all the same.<BR/> It¿s an unforgettable book and will make you think of it for a long while.

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  • Posted December 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Lost in the Snow

    Anna Cayne disappears randomly, her boyfriend, who is never named, tried desperately to find her. He fell in love with her. He keeps receiving clues to her whereabouts from an unknown source. The weird thing is that no one in the town seems affected except him. Will he ever find her? READ THIS BOOK!!<BR/><BR/> This book really kept me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed the odd quirks of Anna. She was very curious and got excited about learning new things. It also impressed me that Mr. Galloway paired the narrator and Anna together when they are both polar opposites. Anna is a Goth and he is an ex-jock. Anna reminds me a lot of myself. She¿s intrigued by the unexplainable, typical of me. I also like how this is a love story. It¿s a twisted love story though. The main character and Anna don¿t have a mushy relationship though, I like that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2008


    I read this book a while ago but I've never forgotten it. This book is probably one of the best books I have read. I simply just couldn't put the book down. If you enjoy cliff hangers this is the book for you. Its simply tragicly amazing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2007

    A reviewer

    This is without a doubt the best book I have ever read. It's a bit confusing yet so simple if you look at it the right way. With the charm of the unnamed narrator and his mysterious girlfriend Anna this book will open your and mind and ask you many questions. But in the end, all the answers are as simple as snow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2007

    best book like everrr

    if you are even thinking of buying this book... do it. because i thought it was one of the most interesting, funny, engrossing books i have ever read. The characters and there relationships are some that you wouldn't expect, and the story line is simply awesome. I couldn't put it down and once i was done i just wanted to read it again. And again. Great read, five stars!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2007


    as simple as snow was a great book i couldnt put it down!!! I know it leaves ALOT of questions unanswered, pracitcally every question really, but i think thats the fun of it, but i beleive the narrartors name is also the authors name:Gregory Galloway. anna is telling the narrartor his full name is almost a double dactyl, 3 syllables and we know his name starts with a G. how many 3 syllable names do you know that start with G?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2006


    This was the greatest book of all time. I think the way the author left a lot of questions still hanging was one of the greatest things about this book. My favorite person in this book would have to be Anna. She has a great outlook on life. The title is perfect for this book. Nothing about this book could have been better!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2006

    A mystery unsolved

    i read this book and through its pages i was captured and compelled by mystery and romance. I loved learning about Anna but my sights were cut short with the ending. As exciting as it was to read the story, almost every question was left unanswered. I great story wasn't finished and I was very sorry to be left with such a mess. I think this book would have been alot better had some questions had been answered, or seemed more related to each other. Although some could argue that, that was the beauty of the book, the open-ended ending giving you something to think about, people like me would feel cheated, with no enough clues to even ponder a realistic ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2006

    As Simple As Snow

    I thought this book was the best book i have ever read. It was so suspenseful and mysterious i had to keep reading. This book was amazing and Galloway is a great writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2005

    Good STORY, but haunting and leaves too many questions

    The story was really good, very well written, but it leaves you wondering so much, and feeling so empty at the non-conclusion that I can't give it a full 5 stars. However, it's often that a person goes missing, never to be found again, leaving the same questions that the reader is faced with, and perhaps that was the author's aim.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A good story

    Brooding Goth Anna ¿Anastasia¿ Cayne recently moved to the small town where she attends Hamilton High School as a sophomore. She dresses in black joining up with six other Manson clones as a clique. Anastasia loves to read, loving those who craft wild ghost stories and enjoys tossing riddles at people. Her hobby is writing obits for the living with her current goal to complete one for all fifteen hundred plus residents in less than a year.................... At the library, she accosts a student over his reading material; they begin dating. However, upon completing the town obits, Anastasia vanishes. Her stunned boyfriend, encouraged by odd anonymous notes with enigmatic puzzles and codes, begins looking back over the five months she was in town and realizes weird things besides his own darkened transformation had occurred. While the obituaries were being written no one died and the author though new in town knew more about the souls than those who lived here their entire life. He wonders if his family or friends caused Anastasia¿s disappearing act or did she pull a Houdini and vanish................... AS SIMPLE AS SNOW grips the readers once Anastasia challenges the narrator over his choice of Kerouac instead of Burroughs and never lets up until the final metamorphosis, but fails to bring together the enigma that makes up the fascinating anti-heroine. The story line grips the audience on two levels; the need to know what really happened to the gloomy Anastasia and as an insightful look at alienated youth. Gregory Galloway provides a deep look at disenchanted teens, but in the end leaves too much unanswered especially the spooky elements that haunt the left behind boyfriend...................... Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

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