This episodic novel tells of pivotal events in the lives of several generations of the Snow family, when each character in each episode is 16 years old. There are four sections. The first tells of Jim in 1931, as his desperate parents decide to leave town during the Depression, Jim's rebellion, and his close connection to his younger sister Cathy. Next, it is 1942, WW II, and Cathy is 16 years old, in love with a soldier and pregnant, facing the death of her baby's father and the decisions forced upon her. We jump to 1969, as Jill, Jim's daughter, is negotiating the cultural upheavals of the �60sdrugs, sex and rock �n rolland the Kent State horror during an anti-Vietnam War protest. Jill's daughter Mona is 16 in 2006 and in this episode Mona attempts to find her own identity as she considers the family history, guided by her loving grandfather, Jim. Moranville works through this story with great skill, telling so much about a family and about 20th-century America in brief, haunting episodes. A teenager like Mona today who may read this story will understand the connectionsthat it's hard to understand yourself if you don't understand your parents, and their parents, and the struggles faced by individuals in your family and by the larger events that shaped their lives.
Gr 8 Up
Family connections come full circle through four interconnecting first-person perspectives of a Snow at age 16. Jim Snow, in 1931; his sister Cathy, in 1942; Jim's daughter Jill in 1969; and Jill's daughter Mona in 2006 share their personal stories, capturing the flavor of each decade during which they pass through adolescence. Jim's conveys the distress of being forced to leave his Iowa home and the girl he loves when his father dreams of a promised land in Colorado, and his ultimate satisfaction when the journey falls through. Cathy's segment describes her secret romance with Jim's wife's brother, her accidental pregnancy, and his death in an accident while serving in the army. Jill's experiences reflect the tumultuous '60s, when she goes to spend time with her adopted sister and college professor Mary Suzanne-really Cathy's daughter-at Kent State and is caught up in the National Guard shootings. Mona brings the story back to its roots when she discovers various family links after Cathy's funeral, gets a boyfriend, and becomes closer to her grandfather. Both major and supporting characters are well drawn and interesting. Beautifully rendered prose with precise descriptions aptly compensates for the few moments of predictability as relationships intertwine and unfold. The author of A Higher Geometry (Holt, 2006) offers another carefully crafted book with enough romance, tension, and chronological accuracy to keep readers turning pages.
Diane P. TuccilloCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.