In this suspenseful historical novel set in northern Minnesota in 1920, 16-year-old narrator Sadie Rose, who has been mute since her mother's murder 11 years before, discovers clues to the trauma that silenced her ("Other than an occasional cry or moan, my voice had died with Mama years ago. Silence. My sanctuary and prison"). Sadie Rose lives in cloistered luxury as the ward of a prominent state senator. When Sadie Rose finds racy photographs of her mother and begins to remember her past, she finds the strength to speak, explore, make friends, rebel, and eventually run away to a frontier town to seek the truth. Casanova (The Klipfish Code) creates a strong sense of place and ably establishes her story's historical context. The narrative confronts weighty issues including prostitution, mental illness, and political corruption, but some are boldly presented and then tidily resolved. Although Sadie Rose's transformation into a daring and self-assured young woman is rather rapid, given her silent and highly sheltered upbringing, readers should find her an admirable heroine as she finds her voice and her future. Ages 13–up. Agent: Andrea Cascardi, Transatlantic Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Mary Casanova knows the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota as few other writers do, and she brings them to life along with an intriguing mystery set in that region’s dark past.
Marion Dane Bauer, author of On My Honor
Mary Casanova’s novel is a gripping blend of history, family secrets, danger, and loveset within the breathtaking landscape of northern Minnesota in the 1920s. Readers will be drawn to the gutsy character of sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose as she tries to break her silence and unravel the mysteries of her dark past. A page-turner from start to finish!
Shelley Pearsall, author of Trouble Don’t Last
"Compelling and believable." Kirkus Reviews
"This tale of courage is beautifully crafted, bringing to life the lakes and forests of the Canadian border . . . these themes are all woven through a setting that drives its characters’ actions, while paralleling issues of today." Booklist
Set against the backdrop of 1920s's prohibition, Sadie Rose has been mute since the death of her mother, a prostitute in a wilderness saloon. She has some memories of that night, and of her life with her mother, but still has many questions. She was taken in by a senator, who subsequently cleaned up their town of Rainer, Minnesota. Sadie Rose lives in constant fear that his family will throw her out when all she wants is for them to adopt her. When they leave her alone with only their servants, Hans and Aasta, she has more freedom than ever before, and for the first time she wanders away from her home, meets new people and finds her voice. The Senator, however, does not approve of her new friends and is concerned about her being un-chaperoned, so Sadie Rose runs away to make her way in the world, and to find out more about her mother, including the provocative photos of her she found in their shed. This is a great story of self-discovery, family bonds, perceptions, and strength of character. Sadie Rose is interesting, if slightly self-absorbed, and many readers will be able to identify with her inquisitive attitude towards her past. Frozen will appeal to all ages, although readers should be aware there is discussion of prostitution and drinking. Encompassing many subplots, this book also holds some unexpected twists and turns readers will be sure to enjoy. Reviewer: Kristi Sadowski
Gr 7 Up—In Minnesota during the 1920s, when Prohibition was the law and women did not have the right to vote, Sadie Rose, now 16, was 5 years old when she was found in a snowbank after the death of her mother and taken in by the Worthingtons. She has not spoken in 11 years. While they are away, Sadie Rose discovers some scandalous photographs of a woman whom she realizes is her mother. She begins to slowly remember bits and pieces of her past, and as she does she wants to know more about the woman and how she died. Sadie's voice returns as she discovers more of her past. Her father, an environmental photographer, lost his life because of the photographs he took of shorelines before and after they were logged, but murder was never proven. His death led Sadie Rose's mother into prostitution. Politics play a role throughout the book as readers learn about power, corruption, class inequality, the environment, and the strength of family ties. There is a budding romance, and some very interesting twists and turns throughout the book. This book does a wonderful job of depicting the time period.—Jesse L. Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA
Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose, mute since her mother's murder 11 years ago, finds her voice again. After her prostitute mother's body is found frozen in a snowbank, with her own not-quite-lifeless body nearby, little Sadie Rose is taken in by the mayor of Rainy Lake, Minn., a boisterous frontier town. When she recovers she is unable to speak. Casanova's novel begins 11 years later, with Sadie Rose chafing under life with her foster parents, who, though wealthy and generous, hold themselves distant. Sadie Rose accidently finds photographs of a woman she recognizes as her mother, which sets off a cascade of memories that leads to her recovering her voice. She runs away to learn the truth about her past and discovers a sense of personal power. In the beginning, Sadie's character is hard to understand--she seems immature and fretful rather than haunted. It's not clear whether her muteness is physical or psychological, and the suddenness with which she returns to speech seems artificial. Her foster father is a caricature of self-importance; some of the supporting characters, also, seem too quick to become intimate and spill their secrets. In effect, the puzzle is too easy to solve, but the story becomes more compelling and believable once Sadie Rose leaves home. Period and place are well-portrayed. A good effort, but not compelling enough to capture many teen readers. (Historical fiction. 13 & up)