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Girl In Snow

Girl In Snow

Blurb

When a young girl is found murdered in a sleepy suburb in Colorado, everyone has their own theory about who killed Lucinda Hayes and why.

Was it her stalker, Cameron, whose creepy behaviour has everyone pointing fingers? Or was it rebel Jade, the only one who wasn’t sad about Lucinda’s death? And can local policeman, Ross, ignore his personal investment in the case and find the killer?


Our Review

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka is an outstanding and surprising first novel.

When a young girl is found murdered in a sleepy suburb in Colorado, everyone has their own theory about who killed Lucinda Hayes and why.  

Was it her stalker, Cameron, whose creepy behaviour has everyone pointing fingers?  Or was it rebel Jade, the only one who wasn’t sad about Lucinda’s death? And can local policeman, Ross, ignore his personal investment in the case and find the killer?

There are a lot of books about young girls found murdered in a sleepy town but this isn’t one of those books. This book is primarily a book about Cameron, Jade and Russ and the impact Lucinda’s death has on their lives. I liked that Lucinda’s death and who killed her is in a lot of ways irrelevant, it was more than that.

If Girl In Snow is any indication of Danya Kukafka’s writing style then I will definitely be interested in reading more. Girl in Snow uses beautifully descriptive words to make the author feel like they are seeing what each character is seeing, thinking and feeling.

“When they told him Lucinda Hayes was dead, Cameron thought of her shoulder blades and how they framed her naked spine, like a pair of static lungs.”

Cameron Whitely has been fascinated by Lucinda for a long time. At night he often used to escape from his bedroom and go to stand outside of her house to observe her. After her murder his mother is horrified to discover numerous drawings of Lucinda scattered on his bedroom floor.

Cameron is left reeling after news of Lucinda’s death is given to him and the other students in an assembly.

“If this were a song, Cameron thought, it would be a quiet song, Cameron thought, it would be a quiet song – the sort of song that drowned you in your own miserable chest. It was stunning and tender.”

As the novel progresses we learn how Cameron’s status as an outsider was cemented by the actions of Lucinda’s best friend, a girl named Beth.

“Beth once told Mr O – Cameron’s favourite teacher – that Cameron was the sort of kid who would bring a gun to school. Aside from having to deal with the administrative mess that followed – the interviews with the school psychologist, the calls home to mom, the staff meeting – Cameron had the same nightmare for four months straight. In the dream, he had to live the rest of his life knowing those families were out there, missing their kids. Mom had lots of meetings with the school’s counselor’s, and after, she’d come home vibrating and angry. Unfounded and unprofessional she’d say.”

When the police learn of Cameron’s obsession with Lucinda it is no wonder he is high on their list of suspects.

Jade offers a different perspective on Lucinda, one that differs vastly from Cameron’s own perfect view of her. Lucinda and Jade had known each other since childhood as their parents knew each other. They were never friends though, they reluctantly spent time together at these times but were always involved in different activities. Jade always got the impression that Lucinda was merely tolerating her presence.

Then as they got older Lucinda became a figure of dislike for Jade as Lucinda took everything Jade had wanted. Jade had a steady babysitting job but got called less frequently by them as soon as Lucinda started to be able to babysit for them as well.

Then to top all this off Lucinda had stolen the affections of her best friend Zap and the promise that their friendship could have been developing into something more.

Lucinda had an easy popularity and an idyllic home life whereas Jade is an outsider in school and has a fractious relationship with her family. Her sister Amy thinks she is cold-hearted and doesn’t understand why she is the way she is. Her mother is cold and distant, frequently putting Jade down and there are hints that there is something secret and broken in their relationship.

Jade feels like she is the only one who is not upset by Lucinda’s death, she feels separate from the spectacle and drama she feels others are making of it.

“Emotions shouldn’t have names. I don’t know why we bother talking about them, because emotions are never what they are supposed to be. You could say I feel ecstatic, or guilty, or disgusted with myself. You could say all of the above. Amy sobs, but I identify only this foreign lightness: like someone has sucked the weight from my legs, taken the terrible thoughts out of my head, softened some sharpness, jabbing at my ribs. I don’t know it’s so calm.”

Jade thinks her sister Amy is being a bit dramatic sobbing at the death of someone she isn’t even friends with and Amy thinks Jade is heartless.

‘It’s pretty fucked up, Jade,’ she says. She pauses before the word ‘fucked’ to consider. We’ve known her our whole lives, and now she’s dead and you’re not even pretending to be sad. “

Jade has two versions of every conversation she has – the real one and the version she wishes she had had. The version she wishes she had with people she records in screenplays.

Russ is the cop investigating Lucinda’s death. When he started out in the force his partner was Lee Whitely, Cameron’s dad. It is made clear from the beginning that Russ misses Lee greatly and that the reasons why Lee is not around now were a source of scandal at the time.

Russ is shocked when he discovers Cameron is a suspect and he thinks back to his promise to Lee that he would luck after his son. Russ knows he will do almost anything to protect him.

Russ becomes further conflicted when it is suggested that his brother in law, Ivan, may have been involved in Lucinda’s death in some way. Russ knows his wife, Ines, would want him to do as much as possible to protect Ivan but he finds that he cares less about protecting him than he does about protecting Cameron.

The strength of Girl In Snow lies in Danya Kukafka’s ability to create characters a reader can care about and via their unique voices she provides a study in the nature of grief and loss in all forms.

I loved it.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

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