3. “Light on snow” by Anita Shreve


Publisher: Abacus, 2005 (first edition published by Little, Brown 2004)
Page count: 272 pages

“Light on snow” is the story of 12-year old Nicky and her father, Robert, who lead a hermit-like existence in Shepherd, New Hampshire, following the tragic death of Nicky’s mother and baby sister in a car accident. One day they are out walking in the forest, Nicky and Robert find an abandoned baby girl born only hours before. The events that ensue will not only save Baby Doris’s life but will also change their own lives.

Written from the perspective of Nicky, “Light on snow” has a deceptively simple language fitting of a 12-year old. While the basic narrative about Baby Doris is captivating in itself, however, the imagery used (particularly relating to the snow and weather conditions) and the story of how Nicky and her dad ended up in this desolate place mean there are multiple layers to this book. It is also interesting to see how the discovery of Baby Doris (named by the hospital in much the same way hurricanes are given names) acts as a catalyst in the grieving process that Nicky and Robert are still very much consumed with.

I think “Light on snow” is a lovely and gripping book. It is the thought-provoking story of what could drive people to such a desperate act as leaving their newborn child out to die, but also a very realistic depiction of grief and how it can affect the surviving family members in profound ways. Despite the heavy themes of the book, however, “Light on snow” is not at all a gloomy story and ultimately leaves you feeling optimistic that it is possible to overcome even the most profound sorrows in life.

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