The images of Nicky's father alone with his grief or the moment when Nicky menstruates for the first time with no mother with whom to discuss it are authentic and poignant; the complex rush of emotions Nicky experiences around the infant's mom -- fear, fascination and (for a variety of reasons the novel makes clear) adoration -- is a well-drawn microcosm of adolescence. The overall result is a novel that probably won't be studied by Shreve scholars in fifty or a hundred years, but one that nevertheless offers moments that are diverting and pleasurable.
The Washington Post
How should the father and daughter behave toward this disarmingly soft-spoken monster? Does she have a story to tell that would explain, even justify, her behavior? Shreve prolongs the suspense nicely, although she wraps everything up a bit too quickly and too glibly. Still, this small-scale story leaves you with a genuinely unnerving sense of larger forces at work -- only this time, bad things might lead to good.
The New York Times
An after-school stroll leads to a life-altering event for widower Robert Dillon and his 12-year-old daughter, Nicky, in this delicate new novel by acclaimed author Shreve (All He Ever Wanted, etc.). In the woods surrounding their secluded home in Shepherd, N.H., Robert and Nicky make a startling discovery-a baby abandoned and left to die in the snow. The infant survives, but the incident leaves its mark. Still recovering from the painful loss of her mother and infant sister two years earlier, and readjusting to the shock of a sudden move from suburban Westchester to rural Shepherd, Nicky struggles to reconcile her innocent notions of adult integrity with the bleak reality of their discovery. The tenuous sense of normalcy Robert manages to sustain is broken with the appearance of Charlotte, the baby's young mother, on his doorstep. Retold 18 years later by an adult Nicky but written in the present tense, the story shifts brilliantly between childlike visions of a simple world and the growing realization of its cruel ambiguities. Aside from a few saccharine moments and a rather pat ending, Shreve does a skilled job of portraying grief, conflict and anger while leaving room for hope, redemption and renewal. Her characters are sympathetic without being pitiable, and her prose remains deceptively simple and eloquent throughout. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (Oct. 12) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
We look for novels published for adults that have immediate appeal for YAs, and Shreve's Light on Snow is just such a book. First of all, it is told in the voice of a 12-year-old girl, Nicky, who lives alone with her father in an isolated setting in New Hampshire. We soon learn they are in their second year of grieving the deaths of the mother and baby sister of the family; Nicky and her father are trying to cope with their overwhelming emotions of loss and grief, and in the differences they are in conflict. Nicky yearns for reconnection, for family; her father is hesitant to make any connections at all. Into this emotional situation, in the snowy winter, comes an almost Christmas-like event: Nicky and her father discover a newborn baby abandoned in the woods behind their home; they rescue the child, taking her to a nearby hospital, are written about in the local paper, and thereby set off a chain of events that make up the plot of this riveting story. The desperate teenage mother of the abandoned baby, wanted by the law, comes to their door, and in Nicky and her father's response to her needs lies the healing for their own loss. This story offers many opportunities for discussions with teenagers about grieving, about responsibility, about connections. Shreve writes with vivid images, in lyrical, yet sparse prose. The characters are heartbreakingly appealing. KLIATT Codes: SA*Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Little, Brown, Back Bay, 305p., Ages 15 to adult.
Thirty-year-old Nicky Dillon remembers back to the December of the year she was 11, when she and her father, Robert, took a walk in the woods-and found an abandoned newborn girl. The baby was turned over to the authorities and pronounced all right, but only because the Dillons found her in time. Two years before, Mrs. Dillon and their two-year-old were killed in a car wreck near the family's Westchester County home. In his grief, Robert abandoned his architectural practice and moved with Nicky to an isolated cabin outside the small town of Shepherd, NH, cutting himself off from his previous associates and removing Nicky from her familiar surroundings. The story has some unexpected twists and an ending that is neither joy-filled nor tragic. Narrator Alyson Silverman has a definite Midwestern accent and mispronounces several words that a New Englander would know. For large popular collections where demand warrants.-Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-After her family has been shattered by the deaths of her mother and baby sister in a car accident, Nicky Dillon, 12, and her father, Robert, move to a small New Hampshire town. One evening, they discover a newborn abandoned in the snow. When the infant's mother, a college student, comes to the Dillon home, the three become snowbound during a blizzard. As she learns the details of the birth, Nicky befriends and tries to hide the young woman from the detective on the case. Shreve explores unwed motherhood and puberty as well as grief and loneliness. Each character is faced with hard choices; each action has consequences. The characters are real, the events believable, and the outcomes realistic. The book is filled with suspense and tension. Shreve's writing is strong, and the treatment of these sensitive issues is handled realistically.-Sheila Janega, Fairfax County Public Library, Great Falls, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From bestselling Shreve (All He Ever Wanted, 2003, etc.), a curiously listless tale of a grieving dad and daughter who rescue a newborn abandoned in the snow. Not long before Christmas 1983, 12-year-old Nicky Dillon and her father Robert, walking in the woods near their house in New Hampshire, stumble across a baby girl wrapped in a bloody towel, the remnants of her umbilical cord still attached. They race her to the hospital, she survives, and the police launch a hunt for the parents. The Dillons' discovery opens the still-fresh wound inflicted on a mid-December day two years earlier when Nicky's mother and one-year-old sister Clara were killed in a car crash. Robert fled Westchester with his daughter, hoping to escape their memories in rural isolation. When the infant's 19-year-old mother turns up, he doesn't want to have anything to do with her, but he finds he can't turn her in either when a convenient fainting spell and blizzard trap Charlotte in their house. Looking back on these events at age 30-for no evident reason except to give us some reassuring flash-forwards at the close-Nicky mingles the gradual unfolding of Charlotte's story (the rotten father exposed the baby and lied to her about it) with her memories of Mom and Clara and her worries about Dad. A sympathetic local detective's gradual closing in on Charlotte provides the not-very-suspenseful plot movement. The whole tale seems contrived, right down to Nicky's climactic, too-pat confrontation with her father. "Are you just trying to stay sad? To hold on to Mom and Clara?" do not seem like the insights of a 12-year-old. Everything is too easy here, including the fact that we never meet the boy who actually left the newbornto die, so readers can feel comfortably sorry for everyone without having to grapple with any messy moral issues. One of this talented author's lesser efforts, though fans will probably be satisfied by the readable prose and intelligent, albeit shallow, character observation. Agent: Virginia Barber/William Morris