Saturday, December 30, 2017

Book Review: Snow Lane by Josie Angelini

Annie is a darned cheerful kid. And the more you learn about her life, the more you realize how she's an awfully resilient kid to be so cheerful in  the face of her situation.

She's the youngest of nine in a very Catholic family in Massachusetts, and of course they are struggling. She doesn't have any shoes to wear to school when it starts in the fall until an older sister takes pity on her and buys her a pair with her babysitting money. On the weekends her whole family is trucked out to the family's farm and has to work at farming all day, often on little to no food. But they're cheerful, they mostly all love each other (she has a couple of sisters who are brutal), and she has friends. She has issues at school, too, as she's dyslexic, but luckily someone noticed what was wrong and so she's actually in advanced classes. And just as you're thinking that well, none of this is great but it's also not terrible, one more shoe is dropped. When their mother is stressed (and with nine kids, when is she not?) she loses her temper. And hits them. And I don't mean spankings, I mean she beats them. And eventually, the authorities get involved.

Boy, Annie is an inspiration! She really is doggedly optimistic, but not in a Pollyanna-ish way. She doesn't pretend everything is great when it isn't, but she makes the best of a bad situation. She's so endearing and sweet and funny, that I just wanted to swoop right into the book and hug her (if not foster her.) So this is a book with a harsh reality and with a dark secret at its core, but it isn't a dark book at all. You're worried for Annie at times, but I never was sad or traumatized. Annie's just so gosh-darn resilient that you know she's going to get through all this—the big question is how.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Macmillan, my employer.

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