In honor of the snowflakes that are currently swirling outside my window, today’s recommendation is a favorite of mine that I read several years ago: Snow Angels by Stewart O'Nan (You may remember the 2007 movie-based-on-the-book of the same name starring Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell). While this book isn’t exactly about snow, it IS very atmospheric and quietly beautiful. Snow Angels is the story of Arthur Parkinson, who looks back on the snowy winter of his parents’ breakup when he was 14 and living in a blue collar, eastern Pennsylvanian town. The novel follows two parallel stories, that of Arthur and his troubled family and also the chaotic life of his former babysitter, Annie. The two narratives overlap when a murder shakes the community and Arthur's family begins to unravel.
Despite the sparse and simple prose, the novel affected me on a very emotional level. Not all of the characters are likable; in fact most of them have many bad qualities and they act in frustrating yet realistic ways. Ultimately, these complex characters are what make the novel so effective and relatable. They're real people and behave in very real ways and many of the problems they face hit close to home. Also, I have to admit, I loved that the main character is in the marching band, because, well, I used to be a band geek too and we need more representation in fiction. The book reads very quickly and has sex and violence in spades, but it's not a book for people who like thrilling, dramatic stories. This novel's power is in its quiet pauses and complex characters and I recommend reading it on a cold snowy day with a big mug of coffee.