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Touching Snow Hardcover – May 22, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—To those back in Haiti, "touching snow" means living in America. For seventh-grader Karina, however, life in suburban Chestnut Valley, NY, is far from easy. Her extended family struggles to survive in a world in which they are social and cultural outsiders, where food and shelter are still uncertain, and where a visit from the authorities can mean deportation to a much more desperate homeland. For Karina, though, the biggest threat is within her family. Her stepfather uses brutal force to dominate his wife and stepdaughters. While Karina nurtures dreams of education and connects with caring people who might help her, she is held back by a man who sees his shaky power diminished by any sign of the girls' independence. As Karina and her sisters mature, this conflict escalates to a terrible scale. The author writes with insight about the realities of immigrant life, Haitian American culture, and the double worlds inhabited by many first-generation Americans like Karina. Readers can see the compromises that family members make in the name of survival and the stresses that drive the stepfather's rage, while still holding to the truth that these girls and their mother deserve a life without violence. Although the resolution is brutal, this story is a compelling read from an important and much-needed new voice. Readers will cheer for the young narrator who is determined to step out of the role of victim and build a safe and meaningful life for herself and her family.—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
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Thirteen-year-old Karina is the tough, middle daughter, sandwiched between two very different sisters. Older Enid, 17, takes care of her younger siblings and cousins while their immigrant Haitian parents work long hours; Delta, the youngest, is pious and easily frightened. Karina's bravado isn't very deep, though, and she sometimes faints when her stepfather rages. Household rules center around a variety of absolutes, and Daddy is the ultimate authority. After he brutally beats Enid, the family is referred to social services, and Karina meets Rachael, whose parents run the services agency. Felin admirably portrays Karina's home life, but her presentation of Rachael and her family, true to Karina's viewpoint, leaves plenty of unexplained questions. Nonetheless, readers of this stirring first novel will find well-developed characters both in the adults and in the young people, particularly Karina and her sisters, who learn to set limits on the abuse that they will take. Goldsmith, Francisca
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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