Pub 8-2012, Univ. of Minnesota Press, $16.95
Even though Mary Casanova has written twenty-nine novels throughout her career, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of her. She’s authored several picture books and has written American Girl novels, too. Judging from the other novels she’s written, it would appear that Ms. Casanova has incredible range as an author. She has the ability to write lighthearted picture books and serious, thought-provoking novels like Frozen. And though I’ve only read a couple of her American Girl titles, I can assure you that Ms. Casanova is definitely consistent with writing excellent novels.
Frozen takes place in the early 1920s and tells the story of sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose, who was found in a snowdrift when she was five years old. Since then, she’s lived life with her foster parents, the Worthingtons, completely mute. The recent discovery of some scandalous photographs of her mother is the first step in a journey for Sadie to discover herself and what really happened to her mother, who worked in a brothel to try and provide for her and her daughter. Shortly after this discovery, Sadie begins to speak again. This opens up a myriad of opportunities for her–-she could get a job, go to college, get married…the possibilities are endless.
Or, well, maybe not. Upon Sadie Rose rediscovering her ability to speak, Mr. Worthington decides that she’s “too much of a liability”. Before she can be kicked out, though, Sadie packs up and leaves, heading to Kettle Falls to find work. By chance, she ends up meeting people who can tell her about what really happened the night her mother died, and how she can unlock her past to move on into the future.
The writing in Frozen is simply elegant and beautiful. Ms. Casanova employs rich vocabulary that paints a picture on every page. The story is enthralling, holding enough mystery to keep your attention, and yet not overdoing it with suspense. The line between too much and too little mystery is a fine one, and Ms. Casanova has definitely found the perfect balance.
Not only is the writing great, but the cast of characters in Frozen is fascinating, as well. Sadie Rose is a believable protagonist, with enough bravery to be a heroine, and yet enough flaw to be realistic. Mr. Worthington, who I disliked at first, later on proves to be much more complex than I originally thought, leaving me with mixed feelings about him. E.W. Ennis, the book’s main antagonist, is a crooked guy who gave me an uneasy feeling every time he made an appearance. Every character given a dime’s worth of mentioning is important, and it was nice to see how everything came together.
With Ms. Casanova’s superb use of imagery and character development, she creates a story in Frozen that sticks in your mind even after you finish reading it. Be forewarned, though, this is a fairly mature book, with talk of prostitution, suicide, and murder. I would not recommend it to anyone under the age of fourteen. To anyone above that age, though, I highly recommend this book. This is a story that you won’t soon forget.
-Rachel P., 16