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.
This book caught my attention when it came out a few years ago and luckily, my book club decided to read it this year. Although I believe it was a great book club selection, last month when we were scheduled to discuss this book, a snowstorm caused us to postpone our meeting, resulting in very low attendance when we finally did get a chance to meet.
A couple that has seen their fair share of heartaches has decided to throw all their troubles to the wind and head north to live in Alaska. They want to start their life over and they feel that living in the raw wilderness will be just what they need. Life turns out to be more rough than either Jack or Mabel anticipate but they dig their heels in, doing whatever they can to make ends meet.
Mabel is especially lonely as she doesn't venture far from their remote homestead. While Jack travels to the local town for supplies when needed, she stays back at the cabin, cooking, cleaning, or making other preparations for their survival. When young Faina seems to appear out of a blizzard during her hour of loneliness, Mabel welcomes her with open arms.
Faina's appearances become mysterious, as when the spring thaw is upon them they know they will not see her until the next winter. Mabel is anxious to introduce Faina to her neighbors, but whenever a friend knocks on their door Faina is nowhere to be found.
Faina fills a void in Jack and Mabel's lives, breathing fresh life into their souls. This was a beautiful story and I'm sure the ladies in my book club enjoyed it as much as I did. With themes of mystery, love, loss, and family, I'm sure you would enjoy this book as much as I did. I highly recommend this novel as a book club selection or for personal leisure.
My Rating: 5/5
Disclosure: This book is from my personal library and I read it for my own entertainment and as a book club discussion.