December 25, 2011

Snow in Summer: A Modern Snow White

Another B&N find, I picked this up in the children's section. The cover of this book intrigued me first. I love fairy tales, especially modern retellings, so I had high hopes for this one.

Summary (from the book jacket): 

With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father's garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother. But when the baby dies soon after he's born, taking Summer's mama with him, Summer's fairy-tale life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and magical mirrors into Summer's world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she's up to no good - and is afraid she's powerless to stop her.

Master storyteller Jane Yolen crafts a brand-new Snow White tale filled with magic and intrigue, set during the early twentieth century in Appalachia, that will be hard to forget.

My Thoughts: 

Readers are thrust into Appalachia with Snow in Summer, Summer for short. She is dealing with the loss of her mother, and in a way her father as well. His love for Summer is not as strong as that for his now deceased wife, and Summer is left to her own devices.

While keeping the house going, she is kept company by Cousin Nancy until Stepmama arrives. Papa has quickly fallen under her spell, but there is something about Stepmama that does not seem to ring true. But Summer is young and unwise, so she falls quickly into the grasps of this character.

Summer is a well-defined character, and she makes the book worth reading. Her spirit keeps the reader feeling comforted that all will be well in the end, until Stepmama comes onto the page. The menacing feeling she evokes in the heart of readers make her a solid villain, a villain that we count down to the demise of while rooting for Cousin Nancy and the “return” of Papa.

While the character of Summer is delightful, Stepmama is a pest, Papa is oblivious and Cousin Nancy stays away. If this was not frustrating enough, Yolen does not have a defined voice in the novel. Readers will go back and forth between Summer, Stepmama, and Cousin Nancy, weakening the effect of the storytelling. This novel needed a third person voice, which would have strengthened the overall effect of the plot and its characters.

If you enjoy fairy tales retold, add this to your reading list. While it did not knock my socks off, I still enjoyed it as a whole.

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