While waiting for the release of The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore (this is the sequel to I Am Number Four), I picked up the book Light on Snow by Anita Shreve to avoid getting bored. Recently, I’m also trying to read more books from other authors aside from the works of Nicholas Sparks, Cecelia Ahern, Pittacus Lore, and Rick Riordan. So I guess having to decide to read other books will help me widen my reading experience and perhaps it can also give me an advantage by gaining new favorite authors.
Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:
What makes a family? That’s what twelve-year-old Nicky Dillon wonders after she and her widowed father discover a wailing, abandoned baby in the snow-filled woods near their home. Through the days that follow, Nicky, her father, and a visitor who unexpectedly arrives at their doorstep – a young woman evidently haunted by her own terrible choices – face a thicket of decisions, each seeming to carry equal possibilities of heartbreak or redemption. Writing with all the emotional resonance that has drawn millions of readers around the world to her fiction, Anita Shreve unfolds in Light on Snow a tender and surprising novel about love and its consequences.
The story was narrated from the point of view of 30-year-old Nicky Dillon as she reminisced a significant turning point in her life when she was merely twelve years old. She and her father moved from New York to Shepherd, a random place somewhere north, after they lost their mother and baby sister, Clara, from a car accident. I sympathized with Nicky and her father, as I know the feeling of losing a loved one. This situation leads a person to lose hope and show no enthusiasm for the future. It may be hard to accept this, but there will come a time when we will also experience death. Death is something we cannot avoid and escape from, as it is part of the human life. But I believe this book actually teaches readers how to face death of a loved one and allow himself or herself to slowly move forward.
Finding the abandoned baby in the snow had surely changed the lives of Nicky and her father, Robert. What surprised me was that Nicky immediately showed empathy towards the baby even though they were not related by blood. Nicky even tried to comprehend the reason for the abandonment of the baby by the parents. And this proved to demonstrate that Nicky, at such a young age, was not naïve about what’s happening in her surroundings. On the other hand, it was evident that Robert, although he cared for the health of the baby, did so only because the baby reminded him of his daughter Clara. It can never be overlooked the fact that he became a changed person after the death of his wife and youngest daughter. He cannot fully express his feelings of grief because once he did that, he might not be able to control his emotions. And this, in turn, will hurt Nicky as well. However, on the brighter side, I can say that the baby (who was later on named temporarily as Baby Doris), helped both Nicky and her father moved on, signifying a moment of learning to let go and mend their hearts.
Aside from baby Doris, the biological mother of the baby, Charlotte, also took part in changing the lives of Nicky and Robert. She became Nicky’s companion – filling in the gap or empty space of what was supposed to be the part of her mother and younger sister. It was through Charlotte that Nicky slowly began to grasp the things that girls her age couldn’t understand yet. She questioned the reasons of people for abandoning and/or killing their babies, emphasizing the value of human life as what every person would have done and known. In the end, Charlotte and baby Doris both reunited the family that was once torn apart, while not being meant to replace the lost family of Nicky and her father. In short, this experience best described what Nicky had said in the book: “I thought about how one tiny decision can change a life. A decision that takes only a split second to make (p. 134).”
Overall, although Nicky’s character development was fully recognized, I felt that Nicky and Robert’s character development came out as lacking. Furthermore, the conclusion of the story was a bit rushed; therefore, leaving me search for something more, but I was impressed by how the book identified the true meaning of family and maturity. Firstly, the book portrayed how age is not defined by one’s level of maturity, especially when it comes to love, marriage, and having a baby. And secondly, family is not restricted to merely father, mother, and children. It’s the relationship, whether blood-related or not, that matters the most, where one can feel belonged, complete, loved, secured, and united by the mere presence of each other. This is the treasure that we cannot afford to lose.
A story of grief and loss, Light on Snow symbolically reminds us that in any ordinary day, amidst the hardships and problems being encountered, an external source/force can unexpectedly heal one’s heart, giving hope and providing him or her with a different perspective in life to make it more meaningful. This book, I can say, is worth reading.