Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Snows by Sharelle Byars Moranville

The Snows follows the Snow family through the generations as each family member reaches their 16th birthday. Jim in 1931, his sister Cathy in 1942, his daughter Jill in 1969, and finally her daughter Mona in 2006. Turning 16 is always a big turning point towards maturity and Moranville plays with the dates to place three of the four stories in a pivotal time of American history. This is part of what makes the book so unique – it doesn’t just deal with one historical aspect, instead it uses several (the Great Depression, WWII, and Vietnam) as the backdrops which affect the lives of each generation of Snows. I think this could have been a bit gimmicky, but Moranville is a strong enough writer to pull it off.

What I especially liked about this book was how well it allowed you get to know the characters and the family. As each new generation is introduced you get to see them in their various roles. For instance, you see Jim when he’s 16 and falling in love for the first time, when he’s a young husband headed to war, when he’s a father, and finally when he’s a grandfather. It’s downright fascinating and it gives the reader far more insight into a character than they’d usually have. Watching the family dynamic develop was truly enjoyable. It made me wish that I could read a generational story about my own family (a behind-the-scenes-true-warts-and-all version) that would let me know what my parents and grandparents were actually like when they were young. How amazing would that be!

There are four stories in total, each told from a different family member’s perspective. Readers will probably find some of the stories more interesting than others. I enjoyed all of them. My only complaint is the clich├ęd pregnancy of one of the characters. The rate at which characters get pregnant after their first time in YA literature is shockingly high and rather exasperating.

I reviewed another of Moranville’s books entitled A Higher Geometry a while back.

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