This is a sad but sweet, young adult novel that was recommended to me by my daughter. It is the tale of Marin, named after the county in California from which she came, who is stranded, alone, in a dorm room in NY, during Christmas break. As she anxiously awaits a visit from her friend, Mabel, the memories of her recent, tragic life events come back to her in waves, and she is forced to reconcile what she thought were the circumstances of her life with what was real.
This is a story in which sensuality is very striking. The cold, stark setting really creates a mood for the whole book. Descriptions of the freezing snow create a palpably silent backdrop for the awkwardness between the two old friends. The cold blowing onto their faces as they trek through the snow freezes any attempt at conversation between them. And when they finally break through, they start to feel the heat come back on – and warmth starts to emanate from one character to the other. They are in a shop in which Mabel picks up bells, and the reader can almost hear the tinkling of those bells as if we are in that store with them. Light is used also, contrasted with darkness, such as the stark darkness on a beach on a moonless night, when one’s eyes cannot adjust to the darkness and one has to give up trying to see. It’s a beautiful way to pull the reader in to each scene.
What initially appears as a simply melancholic book ultimately reveals itself to be a complicated and intimate tale that leaves one thinking about it for days after closing its covers.