Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin

Karina is living in America. To other Haitians this is a BIG deal, but at what price does living the American dream come at? Her grades aren't so good, she doesn't have a lot of friends, and she gets picked on a bit. But still... America! Karina also has a stepfather--The Daddy; her mother married him so that they would have money, a place to stay, and security in the states. Her mother and stepfather work long hours, so it is up to the the three oldest sisters to cook, clean, and take care of the younger ones. But what happens when the kitchen is a bit too dirty or the little one fell and scraped his knee? We find out as Karina's older sister is beaten inches from her life by her stepfather after he discovered that some of the leftovers were thrown out. Do they call the police? Of course not, that would be taking their livelihood away. Who would pay the bills? But, when her stepfather finally is thrown in jail for child abuse, adults (trying to keep this dysfunctional family together) try to convince Karina to lie and take blame for her sister's wounds which would release her worst nightmare back into their lives. What should Karina do? What can she do? After all, she's just a kid. How can a kid speak up and do anything to change the situation. Right?

The first line in this book is “The best way to avoid being picked on by high school bullies is to kill someone.” I wondered who Karina has killed and why; she is so young! As I got into the life of this sad girl I read about atrocities that are happening in her family and how sometimes people can never help those who really need it. This book chilled me deep to the bone and made me think about what goes on in the closed doors of families: fights, screaming, hitting, and abuse--mental and physical. No family is perfect, but Karina seems to be living in a private hell. It was also interesting to see how her family viewed the situation and how much of that was cultural. I learned and felt many things from reading this novel, it was well written and kept me nervous for Karina and her family. I highly recommended it for those who think their life sucks or those who can not understand abuse, how it happens, or why no one does anything to stop it. Actually, I think everyone should probably read it! They won't be sorry.
Gr. 8-12

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