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The Sudden Weight of Snow

by Laisha Rosnau

The Sudden Weight of Snow follows one long winter in the life of 17-year-old Sylvia Kostak, known to all of her friends as Harper. Feeling trapped in rural interior B.C., Harper and her best friend Krista spend most of their time taking advantage of that rural Holy Trinity – the 7-Eleven, the hockey rink, and the house party – always under the influence of drugs and alcohol. First-time novelist Laisha Rosnau’s depictions of small-town adolescence will resonate with any reader who spent their teenage years longing to be anywhere but home.

On a pubescent whim one evening, Harper and Krista decide to visit the local 1960s-inspired artists’ commune. There Harper meets Gabe, a kindred spirit of sorts, and Harper’s narrative companion for the remainder of the novel. They fall in love, argue, and try, unsuccessfully, to understand one another.

Gabe’s story is told by Harper in the second person; Harper narrates her own side of the story in alternating chapters. The style is occasionally jarring, especially since Gabe is a more defined and interesting character than Harper. Secondary characters also tend to unbalance the story. Harper’s estranged father and overly protective mother and Gabe’s pot-growing dad and sexy stepmother are well-rendered and believable, but feel peripheral to Harper and Gabe’s lives.

Ultimately there is little to explain the actions and motivations of either Gabe or Harper. Rosnau carefully develops histories for her characters and places them in an enticing adolescent environment, but the reader feels little emotional connection with the story. While the writing is generally solid, The Sudden Weight of Snow falls short of its full potential.