Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Looking back... and then looking back further

I think my favorite book of the year was Paper Towns. I'm a huge fan of John Green and one of the highlights of my library life was driving him around for an author visit and talking about the music of Uncle Tupelo. But Paper Towns has already been reviewed here so I'm going to talk about a similar book that is a few years older. As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway.

Like Paper Towns, Galloway's book revolves around a eccentric and possibly unknowable girl and the relationship she has with the protagonist. When Anna (who prefers to go by Anastasia) moves to the unnamed narrator's small town she certainly stands out both in appearance and deeds. She wears the uniform of the outcast goth, but refuses to be labeled. She is creative and driven and curious about everything, especially what happens after you die. She is interested in Harry Houdini and writes obituaries of everyone in town.

As their relationship deepens and they grow closer the narrator realizes how little he really knows about Anna. And when she disappears a week before Valentine's Day, her dress laid out near a hole in the frozen river, he wonders if he ever will know what happened to her and why.

As Simple As Snow is anything but simple. A book of contradictions and mysteries, not just within the lives of Anna and her classmates, but in the world they inhabit. It is a clever, twisting mystery but also a tale of young love and loss and how little we know about the secrets kept by those close to us.

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