Discussion: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Part 3

As Alex, Lora and I come to the end of Eowyn Ivey’s enchanting debut novel, The Snow Child, we marvel at Ivey’s storytelling abilities and ponder the outcome. Who was the magical girl at the heart of the story? What was she? And what was the meaning of it all? Warning: Spoiler alert!
By Laurie Grassi

The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey

As Alex, Lora and I come to the end of Eowyn Ivey’s enchanting debut novel, The Snow Child, we marvel at Ivey’s storytelling abilities and ponder the outcome. Who was the magical girl at the heart of the story? What was she? And what was the meaning of it all? Warning: Spoiler alert!

Laurie:  So, the finale of Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child....

  Well...We got our answers, huh?!

Lora:  As I predicted, I'm left with more questions than answers. But what a fantastic read.

Laurie:  Do you think so, Alex? What were the answers, would you say?

Alex:  Well, as to whether or not she could survive as a human.

Laurie:  True. I think she's still out there somewhere and just can't come back as a human anymore.

Alex:  The wolverine. I think she's that wolverine. But there are still lots of other questions left behind.

Laurie:  Yes re: the wolverine! That's exactly what I think!

Lora:  I love that theory — it comforts me.

Alex:  I just worry that Garrett is absolutely going to be left by his son.

Laurie:  Jay is half human, though.

Alex:  What happens if he grows up more like his mother?

Lora:  I thought about that a lot, but I feel like he has such a solid family behind him to keep him grounded.

Alex:  Garrett, for a human, is of the woods, but he's still very much human.

Laurie:  Jay doesn't know how to skin the fish but seems to be able to make snow. And he loves them all so much. He'll be a true mix of both of them; of all of them, really.

Lora:  I was a bit relieved for Faina, to be honest in the end.

Alex: The suffering seemed horrendous.

Laurie:  And she really didn’t belong in that cabin.

Lora:  It was so strange to read about her staying indoors and cooking meals and tending to her family. And that scene where she walked to the forest and stopped and went back to the cabin — heart-wrenching.

Laurie:  So sad! The heavy tracks, and her exhaustion.

Alex:  So sad. She didn’t belong anywhere anymore. I know there's no way they could have made it work, but there was still a part of me that wanted it worked out somehow.

Laurie:  It was all too much for her. It is too bad everyone couldn't somehow know she's out there still. Or that she could come back every winter again. But then, of course, the book wouldn't be anywhere near as dramatic!

Lora:  I thought of her as part of the snow at the end.

Alex:  Do you think she will come back?

Laurie:  No.

Alex:  Do you think there will be a sequel?

Laurie:  No.

Lora:  No, I don't think she will. But I think her son will feel her presence as he grows up. I love that we got to see him as a little boy. What a wonderful way to end the story.

Laurie:  And, in a way Mabel and Jack got even more of what they wanted — a real baby.

Alex:  And they are more needed now, and that's what Mabel's life was lacking in the beginning — meaning.

Laurie:  And a love for the wilderness that will never die. There's that scene of Mabel walking back to their cabin in the dark and she refuses the offer of a lantern. She doesn't need it anymore. She's at one with the darkness and the wild.

Lora:  I loved that scene.

Alex: Me, too.

Lora:  I actually bookmarked it.

Alex:  I have goosebumps! She seemed so empowered in that moment.

Laurie:  OK, speaking of scenes, what about the one with the swan???

Lora:  Intense!

Alex:  The description was so detailed. The way she cut its throat. And that attracted Garrett to her (it takes all sorts!).

Laurie:  Because the battle so hard won, and she was special for having done it. I felt sorry for the swan, and yet it’s inevitable, the struggle for survival. As someone says later, "all the births and deaths."

Lora:  I loved that she saved those feathers and used them for her wedding gown.

Alex:  OMG!!! I didn’t put that together!!! I actually thought, "I wonder where she got them from."

Laurie:  Lol! Speaking of Garrett, Lora and I were talking earlier today about the way he said to Jack, I can take her out hunting in the winter and she can set her "little snares." What did you think about that bit?

Alex:  Condescending! And that is exactly why she would never have been free.

Lora:  As hard as he tried to understand Faina, he never really did. He couldn't seem to accept her the way she was. Even though he loved the wild part of her, too.

Laurie:  Yes. And the cabin closing her in, the whole lifestyle being foreign to her, just as she and her way of living were in actuality foreign to him.

Alex:  And as she tried to change for everyone, she got stuck between the two environments.

Laurie:  And it was the death of her — so to speak.

Lora:  Were either of you surprised by the ending? Part of me expected it, but I still felt a bit shocked.

Alex:  Not really. But I was just hoping, hoping, hoping she'd be OK, even though deep down I knew she couldn't stay.

Lora:  Me, too.

Laurie:  Part of me was surprised because I always hope for a happy ending, unrealistic though that is. The “death” scene was the reverse of the snow child scene at the beginning — she left the way she came.

Alex:  It was happy on a secondary level, once you stood back and looked at how much their lives had all changed because of her, and you realize that, in general, you can't look at life hoping for a certain outcome, you have to let it unfold.

Laurie:  Yes. Their lives had become filled with so much love.

Lora:  And Mabel came to understand that, too. That she didn't get exactly what she was hoping for, but in the end, she was surrounded by a big family. She was loved and needed. And she had a child, a child who came from her beloved Faina, no less.

Alex:  They got what they needed, not what they wanted.

Laurie:  Sounds like a song!

Alex:  A reference to those philosophers, The Rolling Stones!

Laurie:  So anything else, ladies?

Lora:  I would love to read another book by Eowyn. I hope we see more from her soon!

Alex:  I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Laurie:  Me, too. Truly magical, and so well-written, I think: great pacing, structure and characters, and descriptions.

Alex:  And variation in detail so the parts that Eowyn really explains have you feeling like she's zoomed in on them — it's incredible. I genuinely looked forward to reading it.

Laurie:  Well-done for a debut novel, I'd say.

Lora:  Absolutely.

Alex:  Yes, because you’d think if you had this amazing skill at describing things, there'd be a temptation to overdo it, but she has the pacing perfect.

Laurie:  Well, next time, we'll be chatting about another debut, our April Book Club Pick, Gurjinder Basran's Everything Was Goodbye. Talk to you then!

Lora:  Until next time! Happy reading!

Laurie:  You, too!

Alex:  Thanks!


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