Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

She woke up late that morning, and knew:

Something had followed them home from Russia. ~ Opening Sentence from Mind of Winter


Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

Harper, 2014
Fiction; 288 pgs

Mind of Winter is one of those novels that creeps up on you, page by page, the story building, the layers being pulled off very precisely, one at a time.  The novel is subtle in its intensity, especially in the beginning, making it all the more a worthwhile read

Holly Judge and her husband Eric adopted a Russian girl thirteen years ago.  They fell in love with her the moment they saw her on that Christmas Day long ago.  It was not an easy process.  Adoption never is.  And when adoption in another country brings with it its own challenges.

Waking up from a fitful night's sleep, still groggy from a not so good dream, Holly begins her day.  Her husband rushes off to pick his parents up from the airport and Holly goes to see what is keeping her teenage daughter, Tatiana (Tatty), in bed so late.  Haunted still from her nightmare, "Something followed them from Russia," Holly begins to really question events from the past: the seemingly innocent accidents, the growth on her husband's hand, the fate of Sally the chicken, the scratched CD's, and her daughter's ever growing dark mood.

What follows is a day in the life type story, set in the middle of a blizzard on Christmas Day.  Although written in third person, the story is told strictly from the perspective of Holly, as she remembers the past--the adoption process--and as she goes through the motions of the present day.  The entire book is told in one long narrative.  There are no chapters, with only the occasional section break.

When I think back to reading this novel, I find myself amazed at how well-crafted the story is, how every little detail was carefully placed, and, yet, it wasn't something I noticed so much as I read.  It was in hindsight I could see it most.  And aren't those among the best books?

I admit I wasn't overly fond of Holly.  I actually felt bad at times for her daughter because of Holly's constant questioning of Tatty and felt some of the mother's anger at her daughter was overblown or misplaced.  It was in part because of this I was not sure I would like the book initially, and yet something about the story kept me reading.  Perhaps it was the sense of foreboding that something bad was about to happen.  By the end of the novel, I felt a wide range of emotions.  The ending is what made the book for me.

This is very much a book about grief, regret, failures. It is one of denial and fear.  Mind of Winter is so much more than it seems at first.  Picture a small crack in a car's windshield.  If left unfixed, that crack will spread out, splintering off into various other fractures.  That is much how Mind of Winter plays out.  

Rating:  * (Very Good)


To learn more about  Laura Kasischke, and her books, please visit the author's website.

I hope you will check out what others had to say about Mind of Winter on the TLC Book Tours route!




Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. E-copy of Mind of Winter provided by publisher.

© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

22 comments:

  1. A shame that you didn't like one of the main characters, it is for this very reason that I'd think twice about reading this book.

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    1. Tracy - It's not always a necessity for me to like a main character to enjoy a book. In this case, I ended up feeling terrible at the end for not especially liking her early on.

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  2. Wow, this sounds pretty intense, but in a good way!

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    1. Kathy - I thought so! It's a rather dark book, admittedly, but I really enjoyed it.

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  3. I love you analogy at the end about the crack in the windshield. I'm caught up in the something that "followed them from Russia" and the little accidents. Curious enough to add this to my wish list!

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    1. Jenclair - This book was . . . unexpected . . . It wasn't quite what I thought it would be, and yet, to be fair, I had no idea really what it was going to be about when I started reading it.

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  4. Wow that sounds really good and that first line.... This is going on my TBR list! Liking a main character isn't always required for me either. Actually I become more impressed with the author if they can make me want to read a book that has characters that I don't like!

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    1. Katherine - I find that too! If an author can hook me without my liking a character, that's one talented author!

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  5. This sounds like a good intense read! I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the great review, Wendy!

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    1. Melody - It was intense and different. I hope you do check it out. I think you'd like it. :-)

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  6. Oops, not sure if my last comment went through - I was logged into a work Google account.Anyway, I hope my library gets a copy of this one.

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    1. Carrie - I hope so too! It'd be interesting to get your take on Mind of Winter.

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  7. Thanks for being a part of the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

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  8. Wonderful review! I recently saw Samantha's review of this (on the day I got it from the library actually) and really want to dive into it but I feel like I just haven't had any time to add a new book to my current reads. I hope I can get to it before it's due back at the library. I don't want to miss out - you've got me totally intrigued!

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    1. Iliana - Thank you! Samantha and I read the book about the same time and compared notes as we read. :-) I hope you are able to get to it before it's due back to the library.

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  9. Great review! I didn't think that I was going to like it at first either (and I actually set it aside to read something else) but I ended up really enjoying it! I will definitely be reading more from this author!

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    1. Samantha - Thank you! I was surprised how much I enjoyed it in the end. I would like to read more by the author too!

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  10. I was surprised to read that it's a day in the life of sorts, I wasn't expecting that, thinking it would be drawn out and long time scale. It sounds really good!

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  11. Charlie - The story takes place over Christmas Day with the main character reminiscing about the past. It was really interesting!

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  12. Mind of Winter sounds like a great one, I wonder what is going on there with the adopted daughter.

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    1. Naida - You'll have to read it to find out. :-)

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