Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Oh, man, it is grossly humid and I’m going to a concert tonight, so I can’t really jump in the pool and then do my make up later. Sometimes I don’t mind not having air conditioning, but sometimes it really chaps my hide, as some old man in middle America might say. Good thing I had a chilly mystery to help me through this time.

 

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Title: Girl in Snow {368 pgs}

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Summary:

Who Are You When No One Is Watching?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

This was a strangely compelling read. I wanted the mystery to last – which it did, until the last few pages – but I also needed to solve the case right away to be certain that everyone left would get the help they needed.

I guess let’s start with Cameron. What to say about Cameron? He’s that weird kid that sits by himself in the cafeteria because no one wants to be his friends, and he’s not sure if he cares about that or not. One classmate says that Cameron is the type to bring a fun to school, and this fits. But instead of this – and the subsequent flurry of administration involvement – making him angry, this one furthers Cameron’s anxiety. Is it possible to accidentally bring a gun to school? Could he really hurt someone? There’s no doubt that Cameron is different. His favorite pastime is standing like a statue in front of his neighbors’ homes and watching their lives. This is how he spends the night of February 15, standing in front of his one true love Lucinda Hayes’s house, watching her leave and witnessing her murder. It’s just too bad that he can’t remember that night at all.

Jade and Lucina never used to be friends. Their sisters were friends, and so Jade and Lucinda rubbed along as nicely as they could. But the Jade catches Lucinda in a compromising position with someone special to Jade, and all niceness goes out the window. Jade is definitely the most relatable character in the book. To me, at least. She’s chubby and sarcastic and she doesn’t know what she’s feeling, but she’s feeling. Her mother hurts her because she’s not pretty like Jade’s little sister, but Jade persists. She might not like Lucinda, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try to help Cameron to remember that night. Because, you see, Jade may have seen something that night, too.

Then there’s Russ. Russ, the jaded police officer who’s only worry during this whole murder investigation is keeping Cameron, his old partner’s son, safe. He does whatever he can to help Cameron stay off the police’s radar while also trying to keep his memories of before out of his head. Spoiler: he doesn’t really succeed at either. Russ was actually my favorite character, and only because I thought I knew where he was going, and then I didn’t, and then I did, and I was right, and I was so happy that he came clean about himself. His wife’s only worry is keeping her brother, the night janitor who’s the first suspect, safe, and so that becomes Russ’s worry, but he can’t help thinking that maybe his brother-in-law, a former jailbird turned pastor, had something to do with it. Or maybe not.

While the three of them are concerned with who killed Lucinda, they also seem to be concerned with where this leaves them all in their own lives. This is understandable, because Lucinda is dead, but these three are very, very much alive.

Is it too much to say that I adored this book? Because I really, really did. Danya Kukafka has written a beautiful story that twists and turns at the most delicious places, but she never forgets that these characters are alive. Cameron is strange and never really stops being strange, and he’s going to make you uncomfortable, and that’s good. Jade is hurt and mean, and there are some moments when you want to shake her and tell her to be nice, and that’s good. Russ is confused and helpless, even though he’s the one with the most authority of the three, and you want to cry for him as well as shake your head at his cowardice, and that’s good. What I’m saying is, these three are real, and they feel real. You might know a Cameron or a Jade or a Russ, and I hope that after reading this book, you’ll see them with new eyes.

I also really liked that at the end, at the big reveal, Kukafka doesn’t spend a lot of time on motive and what the killer was thinking. Instead, she focuses on how this impacts our three main characters and the world around them. The author believes that her readers are smart, and she treats you as such. It’s kind of wonderful.

Anyway, let me wipe all the drool up and just tell you that you should definitely get your hands on this book. It’s beautiful and you won’t want to put it down.

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