Monday, June 20, 2011

Daughter of Winter by Pat Lowery Collins

Daughter of WinterIt’s 1849, and twelve-year-old Addie lives in the shipbuilding town of Essex, Massachusetts. Her father has left the family to seek gold on the West Coast, and tragically the flux has ended the lives of her mother and baby brother, leaving Addie all alone. Fearful of being taken in as a servant, Addie flees from her house into the snowy woods, where she endures hunger and bitter cold until Nokummus, an elderly Wampanoag woman, coaxes Addie to her dwelling.
Now living under the care of the mercurial old woman, Addie slowly recognizes the truth of her past. Through an intense ancient ceremony and by force of her own wits and will, Addie must come to grips with the facts of her newfound identity – and find the courage to build a future unlike any she could ever have imagined.

Daughter of Winter was a heart rending read at times. The book begins:

Yesterday I washed their bodies
as I’ve seen the women do
dressed them in their best,
and laid them in a crypt of snow…
If that doesn’t catch your attention, for better or worse, you must be the one in the crypt. I was riveted after those first four lines, but I have to admit, Daughter of Winter was a hard read for me because of Addie’s agonizing search for her own identity and “real” mother.

You see, I’m an adoptive mother. My daughter is from China and though she’s still a little young for these questions, she will someday have them. Just like Addie, my child will want to know who her “real” mother is and I will have to contain my tears at the question. Tears for her loss; tears that she has to ask such a terrible thing because I am her real mother. I am just not the person who gave her life. This book managed to touch me in a deeply personal place, for which I’m grateful. I hope it will help me to be a better mother when these questions arise.
The novel’s conclusion is moving and fulfilling, but I hate spoilers and refuse to give away anything else. What I will do is whole heartedly recommend this novel to the general populace, but most especially to those people touched by adoption or foster situations.

If you're interested in a copy of Daughter of Winter, please leave a comment. The winner will be drawn June 23th.
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