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Cover image for As simple as snow
Format:
Title:
As simple as snow
ISBN:
9780399152313

9780425207802
Publication Information:
New York : Putnam, 2005.
Physical Description:
308 pages ; 21 cm
Summary:
"Anna--who prefers to be called Anastasia--is a slightly spooky and complicated high school girl with a penchant for riddles, Houdini tricks, and ghost stories. She spends much of her time writing obituaries for every living person in town. She is unlike anyone the narrator has ever known, and they make an unlikely, though happy, pair. Then a week before Valentine's Day, Anna disappears, leaving behind only a dress placed neatly near a hole in the frozen river, and a string of unanswered questions. Desperate to find her, or at least to comprehend what happened and why, the narrator begins to reconstruct the past five months. And soon the fragments of curious events, intimate conversations, secrets, and peculiar letters (and the anonymous messages that continue to arrive) coalesce into haunting and surprising revelations that may implicate friends, relatives, and even Anna herself."--Publisher's website.

A mesmerizing labyrinth of art, magic, and cryptic love sparks the imagination in this arresting first novel about a young man's quest to unravel the puzzle his missing girlfriend may (or may not) have left behind.
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Library
Call Number
Status
Searching...
GALLOWAY
Searching...
Searching...
YA FICTION GALLOWAY
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On Order

Summary

Summary

A mesmerizing labyrinth of art, magic, cryptic codes, and young love that sparks the imagination and teases the mind-an arresting first novel about a young man's quest to unravel the puzzle his missing girlfriend may (or may not) have left behind. Anastasia (Anna) Cayne is a complicated high school girl with a penchant for riddles and affectionate mind games, who spends much of her time writing obituaries for every living person in town. She is unlike anyone the narrator has ever known, and her energy and enthusiasm explode his quiet universe, revealing a world of Houdini tricks, strange art, covert messages, and ghost stories-although her past remains an even bigger enigma. Even so, he couldn't be happier. But a week before Valentine's Day, Anna disappears, leaving behind nothing except a dress placed neatly near a hole in the frozen river, and a string of unanswered questions. Determined to find Anna-to comprehend what happened, and why-he begins to retrace their past five months together. Soon the fragments of events, conversations, and letters (and new messages that continue to arrive) coalesce into haunting and surprising revelations about friends, about family, and especially, about Anna Cayne. And perhaps these revelations will solve the puzzle of Anna's disappearance, whether it was her own invention, or is simply another of life's great mysteries.


Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Snow, of course, is not really simple, and this clever first novel enmeshes its characters in situations that are more complex than they first appear to be. As related by an unnamed teenage boy, the suspenseful, open-ended plot concerns strange occurrences during an eventful winter in a seemingly quiet community. The possibly unreliable narrator is struggling through a lonely and rather bland adolescence until a new girl in his school's Goth crowd becomes interested in him romantically. Anna is anything but bland: she adores wordplay, odd facts, obscure jokes, ciphers, codes, the paranormal, and practical magic (especially the escape illusions of Harry Houdini), and her hobby is drafting obituaries for everyone in town. When she suddenly goes missing and is presumed dead, her heartsick boyfriend ponders her fate. An accident, surely-or was it? Suicide? Murder? Could Anna have run away? Why was her dress laid out so neatly near a hole in the ice? What about the bruises she tried to hide? Are her parents really grieving? Could a favorite teacher be involved? Though some readers may be frustrated when most questions remain unanswered, others will find their inner Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy stimulated by the abundant ambiguities, coincidences, and clues scattered throughout. An intriguing debut.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

It turns out that snow is "actually very complicated," and so is Galloway's quirky, engrossing debut. In a small town near a river not far from a city, the narrator, an unnamed high school sophomore, encounters new Goth arrival, Anna Cayne. Holden Caulfield meets the Blair Witch, perhaps-but our narrator is more sympathetic and Anna more fascinating than their counterparts. The narrator is unsure why anyone would pursue him ("I'm bland. I'm milk. Worse, I'm water"), but pursue him Anna does, charming him with intriguing postcards, reading recommendations and long walks by the river. He's soon completely, hopelessly in love. But halfway through the story Anna disappears, leaving the narrator and the reader feeling lost and betrayed. The book becomes a search for Anna, complete with ciphers, codes, sightings and buried maps. Does affable art teacher Mr. Devon have something to do with her disappearance? Who was really driving the night fellow student Bryce Druitt slammed his car into the side of the bridge? Galloway makes plain from the beginning that everything in the book might be a clue, and that it's up to the narrator and the reader to solve the mystery for themselves. This can be great fun or lead to great frustration, depending on one's tastes, but there's no doubt that this rich, complex puzzle is the work of a talented author. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Kirkus Review

Engagingly written debut about a mysterious teenage girl's disappearance, and more's the pity: if Galloway were less sure and fluent, readers would be less likely to jump through his hoops before realizing he didn't know why they were doing it, either. Anastasia (Anna) Cayne transfers to Hamilton High and hangs out with the Goths, but the story's unnamed narrator-boyfriend (an angsty teenager down on hypocrisy, we'll call him Holden for convenience) discovers that the only resemblance between the Goths and Anna is the black mascara they both wear. Anna is accessorized with--if not completely composed of--a full set of cool outsider cultural tics. She spends her time writing fanciful obituaries for everyone in town; she introduces boyfriend Holden to Houdini, Poe, Rimbaud, Lovecraft, and Ambrose Bierce; plays him indie-rock music and shortwave broadcasts of mysterious counting voices; sends him messages in code, mysterious phrases, puzzles, and maps. Much remains unexplained about her even as she makes The Spooky and Unexplained part of Holden's life. Where did her bruises come from? Why doesn't her father have eyebrows? What was Anna's involvement in the car crash of loutish alpha Goth, Bryce? Why doesn't she like Mr. Devon, Holden's favorite teacher? When Anna disappears, her dress neatly laid out beside a hole in an ice-covered river, even more questions arise. Why was there a condom wrapper under Anna's couch, when Holden knew he'd disposed of his? Is Anna dead? Is she sending him messages, or is that just wishful thinking? Are the messages from the other side, or just from another town? Where did Holden's drug-dealing best friend go for two weeks? Why did Mr. Devon lie about where he's moving? Did the TV psychic really contact Anna? Who knows? And who cares? Like the puzzles and codes Anna sends, the questions either go unresolved, or if answered, lead nowhere. A pointless exercise that might work for the "I challenge you with my shocking style" YA crowd. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

At one point in Galloway's first novel, a character says approvingly, The Bible is full of contradictions and ambiguities and mysteries. Which is a pretty fair description of this fascinating but often frustratingly obscure book. Oh, the story is simple, as simple as snow: an average high-school boy, the narrator, meets and falls in love with an extraordinary, spooky girl, Anna, a Goth fascinated with mysteries, codes, ciphers, and ghost stories and whose self-imposed project is writing obituaries of everyone in their small town. When she finishes, she vanishes. Did she run away? Did she commit suicide? Was she murdered? The boy determines to find out. But does he? Well, suffice it to say, snow isn't really simple, and neither is this novel. Told in the boy's flat, often affectless, but oddly mesmerizing voice, the plot meanders all over the map and promises more than it ultimately delivers. But its ambiguities and unanswered questions, its teasing foreshadowings and forebodings, make it hard to forget. --Michael Cart Copyright 2005 Booklist


Library Journal Review

In his promising first novel, Galloway creates a brooding teenage character of a type that is becoming a staple of contemporary fiction. That her real name is Anna but that she prefers the more unusual Anastasia says something of her character's ambiguity. Anastasia is too smart for the boys, has retro-cool taste in the arts, writes obituaries of her town's residents for fun, and is fascinated by the disappearing acts of mail-artist Ray Johnson and magician Harry Houdini. Maybe this is Galloway's point: Anastasia is never completely real, composed more of the lists of books, songs, and poems she sends to the book's unnamed boy narrator. When she disappears, we can never really be sure that she was there in the first place. While Anastasia's unusual love affair with the narrator lacks narrative emotion, Galloway does an excellent job of building suspense around a sleepy town in the dead of winter, a girl who knows too much, a teacher with a past, and a boy struggling to navigate the waters of losing someone and finding oneself. If only things weren't left so open ended. Nevertheless, this is recommended as an intriguing read for public libraries.-Prudence Peiffer, Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.