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Snow Angels: A Novel by Stewart O'Nan

Snow Angels: A Novel (original 1994; edition 2008)

by Stewart O'Nan

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3571030,515 (3.62)56
Title:Snow Angels: A Novel
Authors:Stewart O'Nan
Info:Picador (2008), Edition: 2nd, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction, Read
Tags:Fiction, murder, divorce, Pennsylvania, 1970's, reconcile, winter, Christmas

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Snow Angels by Stewart O'Nan (1994)



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Set in a small town in the early 1970s, this is the story of Arty Parkinson, his messed up mother and his sad father, and his former babysitter, Annie, with her ne'er do well husband Glenn and her boyfriend Brock (who was also the boyfriend of her best friend Barb until, well, until Annie and Brock took up out at Susan's no-tell motel on the edge of town). Not one of the characters is happy but they aren't supposed to be. They have little about which to be happy, I suppose: jobs they don't love, unfaithful partners, and boring forms of entertainment. Arty, who is 14, plays in the high school marching band. He and his friends ditch school to smoke weed, sneak beers from their parents' cupboards, and wonder why the adults are all so incompetent. It's not that Arty doesn't love his parents; he does, and he wishes they would get back together. But being 14 is what it is and O'Nan captures the ambivalence and moodiness, undergirded by need for love and approval, that is the hallmark of early adolescence. When Arty's former babysitter is murdered, the not-so-shiny innocence of his youth is further tarnished.

A small detail quibble is that the description of the cash register at the Burger Hut where Arty works after school is out of sync with 1974. I worked in a fast food restaurant in 1976 and the kind of register Arty describes with a shrug had not yet been invented. Otherwise, the writing is pedestrian and the story, which admittedly pulled me in such that I did want to know what happened next, is dismal without redemption. Stewart O'Nan is an above-average observer of human nature and intimate relationships but this novel fell short of his capacity. ( )
1 vote EBT1002 | Feb 5, 2017 |
The short version: Read this book. Buy this book. Preferably, not in that order.

Except from Full Review:
The best quality about Snow Angels, shared by one of my favorite movies, 5 Centimeters Per Second, is that it exemplifies the idea of simply being a slice of life book. As the story unfolds, the conclusion comes, not with a nice tidied ending, with life better for all those involved, but with the emotional realization that what has occurred is simply life. Nothing about Arthur or his mother and father will get better. Everything from the murder of his baby sitter to the divorce of his parents simply is.

Writing, as profession, means that the writer must win or earn the readers trust. Sometimes, far too often, writers attempt to earn this trust by creating thin emotional attachments to characters and tying the story up neatly in the end. O’Nan takes that premise, grabs hold of our emotions as a reader, and never lets go. He doesn’t rely on gimmicks of quick actions and lots of character references that pass for depth and emotion connection. No, he earns that with quiet character moments, building to the realization in the end that Arthur’s crappy existence isn’t going to get any better. No magical resolution to end Snow Angels, instead replaced with an emotional resolution where the readers catharsis is the acknowledgment that Snow Angels mirrors life so well.

Full Review:
http://sypherhawq.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/book-review-snow-angels-by-stewart-on... ( )
  sypherhawq | Jul 5, 2014 |
Very sad and depressing book . Characters and setting are very believable . You know how this book will end from the beginning. Time and place. ( )
  librarian1204 | Apr 27, 2013 |
I really liked this book. It's the story of a murder told by a adolescent who knew the victim from his childhood. A coming of age story (separating parents, first love) mixed together with a bit of mystery. Touching.
  verenka | Jun 13, 2010 |
My first impression of this book was that it was meant for 6th graders. The font size used was huge and made it appear as if it had 10 words per page.

Once I started reading it, I realized I wasn’t too far off. While the subject matter is too much of a downer for a nine year old, the way the story was written would have made them feel right at home. The sentences were choppy and had no weight to them.

There were so many missed opportunities that could have made this book a knockout, but were simply washed away. The deaths of several characters were described in at most 2 simply written paragraphs. I was left with a feeling of wanting more (or really SOMETHING) and getting handed simply a statement.

You don’t get a sense of love or hatred for any of the characters. While a lot of situations were sad, they were just that. Sad. Then you moved on. You didn’t relate to the characters just the situation, which when it comes to reading a 300 page book, would help.

I was disappointed by this book as it was recommended by someone who reads a massive amount of books. This book will definitely be sold at the next yard sale. No reason to keep it. ( )
  TheBookJournal | Nov 25, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Nothing is dearer than this small town main street,/where the venerable elm sickens, and hardens/with tarred cement, where no leaf/is born, or falls, or resists till winter./But I remember its former fertility,/how everything came out clearly/in the hour of credulity/and young summer, when this street/was already somewhat overshaded,/and here at the altar of surrender,/I met you,/the death of thirst in my brief flesh. - Robert Lowell
For my mother and father and John
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I was in the band the fall my father left, in the second row of trombones, in the middle because I was a freshman.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312427697, Paperback)

Now a major motion picture from Warner Independent starring Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale

Arthur Parkinson is fourteen during the dreary winter of 1974. Enduring the pain of his parents' divorce, his world is shattered when his beloved former babysitter, Annie, falls victim to a tragic series of events. The interlinking stories of Arthur's unraveling family, and of Annie's fate, form the backdrop of this intimate tale about the price of love and belonging, told in a spare, translucent, and unexpectedly tender voice.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:34 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A small-town tragedy with strong characterization. A grown man recounts two interwoven events which occurred when he was a boy, the break up of his family and the murder of his baby sitter. By the author of In the Walled City.

(summary from another edition)

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