four stars · reviews

Review: Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen

I got this book on Black Friday. Originally another book from this author caught my eye, so much so that the reviews on the back of that one brought me to this one. I bought both books that day and have since become a fan of this author.

The blurb:
With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father’s garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother.
But when the baby dies soon after he’s born, taking Summer’s mama with her, Summer’s fairy-tale life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and a magical mirror into Summer’s world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she’s up to no good. Is Summer powerless to stop her?
Master storyteller Jane Yolen crafts a brand-new Snow White tale filled with magic and intrigue, set during the early twentieth century in Appalachia, that will be hard to forget.
Age: 10 years and up
Review: 4 stars
This modern retelling of Snow White was a great mix of old and new. We start out with the girl, Snow-in-Summer Morton (yes, that’s her real name). She is at her mother’s and baby brother’s funeral. Cousin Nancy is acting like her real parent, because her Papa is too absorbed in his grief to pay any attention to his only daughter. Throughout the book we watch her grow, from her being seven years old to her being thirteen (until the last chapter in which she’s nineteen). She learns that things aren’t what they seem, especially her Stepmama.
Cousin Nancy is basically her mother throughout this whole book. While her Papa is so focused on his grief, Cousin Nancy helps Summer grow and takes care of her and her Papa. I think Cousin Nancy is my favorite character in this whole book because she has suffered through a lot (including her own husband dying) but she still carries on and is brave for those around her.
I honestly really didn’t like Lemuel Morton (Summer’s Papa). Yes, a person should feel grief that their love has died, but not to the extent of practically forgetting that your daughter exists! It was as if he was a ghost throughout the whole book, and it took Summer almost dying for him to come to his senses.
The stepmother/witch was a nice change. Though yes, she was the evil witch, we got to see inside her head for a few chapters and got to see what motivated her, though we didn’t understand it.
What through me off for a bit was when the point of view switched. The chapter was titled “[Name of character] remembers” when it was in their point of view, but during the first few times it happened I was confused as to why the voice sounded different. Once I got it, it made perfect sense, but it took a while.
Though we, as readers, know what happens (haven’t we all read/watched Snow White?), the book was different enough that it had a fresh twist to it. It wasn’t boring or redundant—it was new and sometimes I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.

The book is directed towards a much younger audience, which might be why I didn’t get immediately sucked in, but I really did enjoy the book and recommend it to anyone who loves fairy tales, danger, adventure, and love of many kinds.


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