Saturday, January 25, 2014
Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke
3.0 out of 5 stars - Dark and disturbing...
This unusual psychological drama takes place over the course of a single Christmas day as the increasingly unreliable narrator, Holly, is set to prepare a dinner for guests that end up unable to come for the feast due to a severe winter storm that blankets the Michigan area in a huge amount of snow. Holly is not alone at home, however -- her adopted 15-year-old daughter, Tatiana, is asleep when husband and father, Eric, leaves for the airport to pick up his parents before the storm hits. The reader immediately knows that something is not quite right about Holly when the phrase: "Something had followed them home from Russia," is repeated so often in her thoughts as to become more annoying than chilling. A bit later, it comes clear that something is also a bit off with Tatiana - a beautiful "Jet Black Rapunzel" whom Holly and Eric had brought back and adopted from Pokrovka Orphanage #2 in Siberia.
The twisting tale has flashbacks that reference Holly's medical issues and childhood and to her and Eric's visits to Russia during the adoption process. She's quite quickly painted as being a bit unstable with a huge propensity for denial. Tatiana is particularly difficult throughout the day as Holly continues to prepare the meal, and secrets that Holly has locked away inside her winter mind start to affect and disorder thoughts and behavior. Just what happened at the orphanage 13 years ago -- and exactly what is going on there in the cozy house between mother and daughter on this Christmas day?
I found the ending both somewhat predictable and also surprising. The writing is a cross between prose and poetry and I read the book in a matter of a couple of hours but had to go back and reread several sections just to make sure I "got" it all. There are some unresolved issues, however, but those dangling ends probably can best be left to the reader's imagination. Enjoy!
I selected this book because I had read and enjoyed two of this author's other novels: The Raising: A Novel and In a Perfect World: A Novel.
Amazon Vine ARC