Thursday, September 6, 2012

Frozen by Mary Casanova

by Mary Casanova
264 pages
NetGalley/University of Minnesota Press
YA Historical Fiction
September 2012

Book Jacket Summary
Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn’t said a word in eleven years—ever since the day she was found lying in a snowbank during a howling storm. Like her voice, her memories of her mother and what happened that night were frozen.

Sadie Rose’s search for her personal truth is laid against a swirling historical drama—a time of prohibition and women winning the right to vote, political corruption, and a fevered fight over the area’s wilderness between a charismatic, unyielding, powerful industrialist and a quiet man battling to save the wide, wild forests and waters of northernmost Minnesota. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the haves and the have-nots, to the power of family and memory, and to the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way—but is utterly determined to find it again.

My Thoughts
There is something about well written historical fiction that transports you to a time and place that is foreign yet familiar. Casanova writes a story that feels modern in the confines of the expectations of the time period and this makes Sadie Rose feel not like a twenty-first century woman but a girl on the brink of the early twentieth century. The prospect of education, working, voting, and maybe marriage are ahead of her. She also goes out alone in a boat with a gentleman and worries about the implications of her guardians finding out. In this time period it could ruin a girls reputation and potentially leave her homeless.
When we first meet Sadie Rose she is is a mute from her traumatic past. As she slowly regains her voice, she also regains her memories of the night her mother died and the events leading up to it. She is indebted to the family that took her in but also knows she can never really be their real daughter. They will not adopt her and she thinks it is because her mother was a "red skirt", a prostitute and adopting her would ruin their family name. Instead she leans on the help, Hans and Aasta, they  treat her with compassion and understanding. 
Sadie navigates the world around her and the social classes she straddles. She is the ward of a wealthy politician and thus had modern comforts but has to watch her every move in case she embarrasses the Worthington's and is sent away. She must also find out what really happened on the night her mother died. Did she really drink herself to death? Why was Sadie found out in the snow nearly frozen to death? Sadie must hunt down these answers and find the truth behind what happened to her parents. 
I really liked Trinity and how well Casanova treats the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in the early twentieth century. Women were still thought of having hysterics but Trinity has a real problem that her parents are sympathetic to and at least do not lock her in a room with yellow wallpaper. 
I would highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, true historical fiction. This does not shy away from the times and things that would have happened to a young woman alone in the world. Casanova did a great job with this book and I can only hope that she has another book coming out soon. 

Book Pairings
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by
The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart, #1) by


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