Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka Picador Books January 11th 2018
Winter in a Broomsville, Colorado and popular high school student, Lucinda Hayes is found dead in the school playground. She has a gash on her head and her neck is broken. As shock waves ripple through the town, the question every wants to know, is who killed her.
As the town tries to come to terms with the crime, its effect on three of its inhabitants is both deep and profound.
Cameron Whitley, product of a broken home, his father a disgraced police officer long gone leaving him in the care of his mother is devastated by her murder. Lucinda was the love of his life though they had rarely spoken, but she knew and so did the town that Cameron watched her, stalking her movements. As suspicions of his guilt grow so does the intensity and erraticness of his behaviour.
Jade Dixon-Burns, hated Lucinda for taking away good things in her life, wishing Lucinda dead. Was she to blame for an illfated wish come true?
Russ Fletcher is a local police officer called in to help solve Lucinda’s murder, ex partner of Cameron’s dad forced to confront his past whilst keeping his promise to look after Cameron.
This is not your straightforward crime novel, it is much more and certainly goes deeper than that. Girl in Snow is totally character driven, told in alternating chapters from each of the characters perspectives. What effect did the murder have on each individual, how do they reconcile their feelings and did one of them commit murder?
Kukafka’s characters are complicated and total misfits, unaccepted by community in which they live.
I was particularly drawn to Cameron, this young teenager struggling to make sense of what is happening around him, his emotions and thoughts all over the place. I found myself questioning his innocence or guilt throughout the novel, whilst feeling sorry for him, wishing someone would reach out and help him.
Jade was totally different, your classic goth, overweight, and a victim of an abusive, uncaring mother. Kukafka was brilliant at using her to show how hard it is to be different from your peer group and to not want to conform to the norm. I especially liked the the way Jade’s thoughts and story were told as as if she were in a screen play, perhaps the only way Jade could understand and make sense of her circumstances and feelings.
Russ, is important to the story, but I felt somewhat secondary to Cameron and Jade. Russ’s story was more about the secrets that dwelt in his past, his marriage and his desire for a better future.
Kukafka’s writing is brilliant, the characters emotions and conflict shining through. It is also brilliant at showing the narrow mindedness of a small town, how we are too quick to judge and accuse without looking below the surface.
I did guess who the murderer was and it is not a huge surprise, but it is not the objective of the novel to merely solve the crime but more about how we get there, how the characters evolve and confront their inner demons.
Girl In Snow is not fast paced and it may not suit some readers, but it is superbly written, and deserves to be hugely successful..
It would make a great Netflix series!
Thank you to Alice Dewing and Picador for a proof copy to read and review
About the author
Danya Kukafka is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualised Study. She currently works as an editorial assistant at Riverhead Books.
Girl In Snow is her debut novel.