Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Review published on September 5, 2017.

Lucinda Hayes is found dead, covered in snow, in a sleepy Colorado suburb. She is a high school student and this book concentrates on the three central characters who all have links with her – the boy obsessed with her, the girl who wants to have her life, and the cop assigned to the case, whose brother-in-law is in line for being responsible for Lucinda’s death.

Told in alternating chapters over a period of days, this slowly unwinding tale of unrequited love and jealousy had me hooked from the start. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller then this isn’t for you. But if you want an artistic, true look into three flawed characters with their lives laid bare, then you will identify with this book. Kukafka writes in an enchanting and dreamy way, totally capturing the teenagers Cameron and Jade’s thoughts of Lucinda and their struggles within broken families and problems at home. Russ, the policeman, has his own worries too with an ex-con brother in law and a wife that truly believes he is innocent.

Cameron’s father was Russ’ partner, a cop who’s run off under mysterious circumstances. This has profoundly affected Cameron and he is not happy. He struggles at school and is a misfit, with seemingly only one friend. Jade is also an outcast; however, she doesn’t give a monkey’s about what anyone thinks of her. She hated Lucinda because the pretty ‘dead girl’ stole her boyfriend.

I found the chapters fascinating and while many will find this too slow going, I loved the fact this was more based on the psychological personalities of the characters rather than the death. Right from the start the school children are told of the death at assembly by the Principal and the school is divided. One half are shocked, the others are kind of thrilled something so exciting has happened.

This is a poetic read which will stay with you long after you’ve finished. The characters are hard to like and this may make for a difficult read for some. However, I loved the way the book was divided up with the characters’ names and their thoughts and feelings, especially Jade who mentally ‘re-writes’ scenes as a screenplay that have played out in real life which she calls ‘What you want to say but can’t without being a dick’. To me, she was the central character and a fascinating one, the slightly overweight ‘emo’ with a pierced lip, chipped black nail polish and a dubious taste in t-shirts.

The reader actually knows very little about Lucinda, only that she was the attractive, popular one at school. This almost doesn’t seem to matter because the rest of the story is so engaging, and the characters so troubled and all fighting inner demons. Half way through I was no nearer guessing how it would pan out. Everyone’s just a little bit strange. I really enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

Kirsty MacKenzie 5/5

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
Simon & Schuster 9781501144370 hbk Aug 2017

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