Girl In Snow: A Novel by Danya Kukafka

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“If this moment were a song, Cameron thought,  it would be a quiet song- the sort of song that drowned you in your own miserable chest.”

Every school seems to have their ‘golden girl’, some have several, and usually they aren’t so golden. I think of the quote by Leo Tolstoy, “What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness.” So many people are blinded by it, just as much as being different often leads to shunning. Let’s face it, people that are misunderstood are often feared. Any deviation from the norm is suspect. So what happens when a beautiful, popular darling Lucinda is found brutally murdered?

Cameron Whitley loved Lucinda, he knew her more intimately than anyone, though they didn’t speak. Everyone knows he is weird, that he was obsessed and watched her. Love makes people do strange things, but with her death he begins to unravel. He deals with his grief and horror through his art, but do the drawings tell a story of their own, one he doesn’t want anyone to know? His actions are getting even crazier, and people have him pegged as the killer, after-all, unrequited love is often a motive! He is a watcher, but he isn’t dangerous, is he? How caged he feels, how animal simply because of his inability to navigate the world just like all the ordinary people. Why, why does he have always have to be cast out? Why does he flip between a childlike innocence and creepy stalker? As they say, even serial killers have mothers who love them.

Then there is the hateful, angry, bitter Jade Dixon-Burns who could always see right through Lucinda’s phoniness. She knows firsthand how imperfect the darling was. Jade knows that she wasn’t the angel everyone imagined her to be. Lucinda cost her so much more than her job! Lucinda’s beauty, her very existence was a black-hole that ripped everything Jade had from her. The wounds were bad enough, but the salt was Lucinda’s indifference to the hurt she caused. Jade had genuine love, in her best friend  Zap (Édouard) but she took that too. It’s no wonder she can’t dredge up enough empathy for her little sister Amy, mourning the loss of her friend’s older sister, but it’s a bitter brew when someone eclipses you. If such suffering isn’t enough, her mother is an abusive nightmare. While Lucinda lived the charmed existence of a beloved daughter, admired older sister and popular school girl, Jade suffers at her mother’s hands for adding to the disappointment her mother feels about her own miserable life, her looks guarantee she’d never be popular among her peers, and her family’s financial situation made her job vital.  She is no one’s ‘beloved.’ Her tongue is vicious, the result of her poisonous surroundings. Hiding her suffering, only one person was allowed access to the bruises on her skin and pain in her heart and that was Zap. If only she could go back in time, if only her changing body didn’t betray her, if only life wasn’t a popularity contest some of us are bound to lose, then maybe she wouldn’t despise Lucinda’s golden life, then maybe she could feel sorry for her and squeeze out a lone tear. What ifs are fantasies, and Jade knows this more than anyone. So the princess suffered, so what? But did she kill her? Could she hate Lucinda so much that she would leave her lying dead in the snow?

Officer Russ Fletcher has ties to Cameron, and a heavy guilt that he carries. Will his past cloud his investigation? Everyone is pointing at the strange boy, and there seems to be a lot of signs that point to Cameron, which sets a personal dilemma for the detective.  The town itself “knows the truth”, they have their criminal drawn and quartered in their mind. It’s easy to solve the case, it could be no one else but Cameron, right? Cameron and Jade are pulled together, and every one of Lucinda’s secrets come out, reminding us we never truly know things in the way we think we do.

I wouldn’t compare this to other novels, it stands perfectly fine on it’s own. It made me feel people’s most common thoughts can be their worst. I’ll be watching this author.

Publication Date: August 22, 2017

Simon and Schuster

 

 

 

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