Monday, January 11, 2010

LIGHT ON SNOW: A Compelling Story-A Book Review and Lesson for Aspiring Writers

I was in a discount store over the holidays, A Dollar General, I think. I was perusing the aisles and came to a section with some books. I've never paid much attention to books in these stores because I'm usually disappointed. They often carry some odd, esoteric non-fiction stuff I have no interest in. This time I noticed novels, so I perked up.

I saw some romance novels, a few paranormals-you know, the more interesting reads! And then I saw Light on Snow by Anita Shreve. I read the blurb on the back and it sounded interesting, so I took a chance and bought it. Boy am I glad I did.

I devoured this little gem. Though it is actually not so little at 305 pages. I don't believe this book was classified officially as a Young Adult book, but it certainly reads that way. The protaganist, Nicky is thirty when she recounts the story, but the novel's action all takes place when she is 12 years old and is told from that perspective. This story explores love, loss and the effects of death and grief on the young and not so young.

The summary on the back of the book says it all, so with that being said:

What makes a family? That's what twelve-year-old Nicky Dillion wonders after she and her widowed father discover a wailing abandoned baby in the snow-filled woods near their New Hampshire home. Through the days that follow, the Dillions and the unexpected visitor who soon turns up at their door-a young woman evidently haunted by her own terrible choices-face a thicket of decisions, each seeming to carry equal possibilities of heartbreak or redemption.

This story was filled with suspense and a real page turner. I hated to put it down. It keeps you guessing right to the last moment, answering your questions one by one until the end. Excellent!

As a little aside for the aspiring novelist: This book is a great example of writing craft. It exemplifies the power of starting your story with the inciting incident and the effective skill of weaving in backstory/flashbacks. When I was trying to decide whether to buy the book, I saw that the author started with the focus of the story-the abandoned baby-pretty quickly, so I knew I didn't have to wade through dry, boring material to get to something interesting. That clenched it and I bought the book. She also gave a sense of who Nicky and her father were right away, so you connected with them early on.

This book is a great read and a good example of how to write a novel. I highly recommend it on both counts.



  1. Anita Shreve is an author whom I think I will read all her works, very nice review, I will add this one of hers to my TBR list.

  2. Thanks MarceJ. I agree. I'm definitely interested in reading more of her books.

  3. Wow, great review June. This book sounds brilliant, I'll definitely be looking out for it. I liked your aside at the end, had some really good points in it that I'll certainly bear in mind.

  4. Thanks Carly. I'm happy when I can leave readers with a helpful learning experience as well as entertainment :-)


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