Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 7, 2008

Touching Snow Lit Circle

Filed under: TOUCHING SNOW — erinlbowman @ 1:23 am

This book was a very touching read. It began with Karina talking about how the kids at school treated her differently since her “the daddy” had died. After that the story went into a flashback that lasted the rest of the story bringing us back to where it began. This story is a profound example of the struggles that both poor immigrant children and abused children face in their daily lives. I think that it is an excellent read for teens because of all of the issues that it addresses on top of the main two.

I am really interested to see how the other two readers liked it, and how they saw some of the issues that it brought up. I thought that it makes for a great YA read because it doesn’t show Karina and her siblings doing the right thing, but the only thing that they see as an option to them. I can’t wait to talk to you guys on Thursday to bring up some more hot topics from the story.




  1. I am excited to talk about this book in our lit circle tonight. Some questions:
    – Is this book Haitian literature? In what ways does it reflect Haitian culture? In what ways might it perpetuate stereotypes about Haitian families specifically and immigrants in particular?
    – Karina and her sisters make a pact to protect each other from abusive men. But what about the abusive women (including themselves to varying degrees)?
    – Was this a satisfying ending for you? I felt like there were still some deep-rooted issues to resolve (or at least address). For me, ending with Enid’s marriage and the emphasis on protecting her (if necessary) seemed abrupt, disconnected, even irrelevant in some ways.
    – Finally, to connect with my post about the appeal of “problem novels,” I found this book hard (even unpleasant) to read. I think it was not so much the graphic description of the abuse, but rather the complacency and self-centered survival skills the children had developed that I found upsetting. In a way, the whole premise of the sisters as guardian angels contrasts with the reality of their actions – often saving themselves at the expense of their siblings. To be clear, I’m not saying that the characters’ should or shouldn’t have acted in a certain way, I’m saying that there were some inconsistencies in their actions. Of course, considering their circumstances, these inconsistancies might be very realistic.

    Anyway, looking forward to our conversation tonight.


    Comment by sostrom — February 7, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

  2. I know I’m a little late to the punch in posting for our initial discussion; I wasn’t too sure as to how these lit circles would be working and if we needed to post before class or after class, but either way, I’d just like to give everyone a brief overview of what we discussed in class.

    Our reactions to the novel were pretty scattered. We all agreed that there was something powerful operating within the text that compelled us to finish the whole thing. Erin loved the novel,I thought it was good too, and Sarah yielded some enjoyment from reading it. But the questions Sarah posed here and which we discussed for the most part in class, brought up some pretty interesting insights.

    Personally, the only reason I continued to read Touching Snow was to see if any of these characters would take a stand against the Daddy. They had plenty of opportunities to do so, especially with the court hearing and police coming by the house, but the fear and helplessness overcame any sort of logical thoughts that could have helped the family escape without resorting to murder (and subsequently the cover-up of this murder). This bothered me, especially when considering the first question raised by Sarah above. If this novel is a representation of Haitian culture, wouldn’t this text be offensive? The Haitian characters that populate the story are cruel (even the narrator, Karina, comes across as a jerk when talking with her young lesbian lover), helpless, and shallow. The way it is written, I can’t tell if this was intentional on part of the author, if she was trying to make some sort of statement. But even the ethnicity seems as though it can be cut and pasted. The same exact story could have been used with a white family or an African American family. This is because the devices used by the author to incorporate the culture into the text are weak. If I were to say I learned anything about Haitians from reading Touching Snow, it’s that they speak Creole, they drink tea with lemon grass, they’re very religious, and they’re violent. That whole aspect just seems contrived. Ultimately we came to the conclusion that the author tried to do too much with her debut novel and ended up losing herself in the process. There are important issues raised in Touching Snow, but the main attraction is the plot. Which is fine, but definitely not worthy of a book award.

    Comment by traverse02 — February 8, 2008 @ 1:51 am

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