Review: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

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Photo courtesy of GoodReads

Title: Girl in Snow

Author: Danya Kukafka

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Synopsis: Who Are You When No One Is Watching?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.

***

*I received a free e-galley of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Just from this book’s synopsis, I was captivated. Murder, scandal, and a thrilling chase to solve a mystery all made this a must-read.

Girl in Snow is a thoroughly impressive debut novel. Danya Kukafka’s voice, flowing prose, and ability to comfortably switch between multiple character’s perspectives is carried out seamlessly.

I am a sucker for books with multiple points-of-view. One of the things I love most about books that accomplish this task well is that it adds much more dimension to stories–intertwining plot lines and varying observations of the same event (especially in thrillers and mysteries) has always helped me to come full circle as a reader. This is definitely one of Kukafka’s strengths as an author.

Girl in Snow‘s narrators couldn’t be more different from one another, yet they all work together to tell a heavily nuanced story. Cameron, one of Lucinda’s classmates, fights an internal battle upon learning of Lucinda Hayes’ death–a girl whom he demonstrates an incredible fascination with. Upperclassman student Jade maintains indifference at the reveal of Lucinda’s murder, but why? And Russ, a cop with little passion for his profession, winds up in the middle of a freshman girl’s mysterious death–but somehow, they all intertwine and encircle the truth of what exactly happened that fated night.

Despite my expectation of a clue-for-clue murder-solving mystery, this novel reveals itself to be a strong character study of all three of these individuals, more so than anything. Enticed by the promise of secrets, I entered into this book believing that I’d gather a greater understanding of Lucinda Hayes leading backwards from her death, but rather than these characters exuding the truth behind Lucinda’s downfall, you learn more about the characters’ own demons than those of the murdered party.

Perhaps its my fault for honing these expectations, because beyond my confusion over the plot’s intentions, this book is beautifully written. Kukafka eloquently expresses the rarely seen undersides of characters, like Cameron’s character remaining largely in his head for a majority of the novel, and Jade uncovering her own truth through analyzing her interactions with others. These small details that may remain unseen in mysteries that focus only on the murdered, rather than those who must continue living afterwards, are a strength of Kukafka’s debut.

While the character of Lucinda begins the story, she proceeds to become a mere plot device to further the three protagonist’s internal discoveries. Her murder sparks thought, questions, and action from Cameron, Jade, and Russ. Lucinda is not so much a character–but a means of igniting change and discovery amongst those who lost themselves and need to be found. Solving Lucinda’s murder reveals just as much about each of Kukafka’s narrators as it does about Lucinda herself.

Although I was not completely satisfied with the structure and the path the plot followed in Girl in Snow, it still showed itself it be a fascinating and intriguing breakout novel for Danya Kukafka. I’m sure that her future works will follow suit, with just as much entrancing prose and captivating character development as Girl in Snow.

3/5 stars. 


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