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
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.
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.
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