Review

House Under Snow

by Jill Bialosky



Readers of HOUSE UNDER SNOW won't be surprised to learn that author
Jill Bialosky is a poet. Her prose is elegant. It rings in your
ears long after you've closed the book cover. The story, which
details the life of a young girl struggling to find herself in a
house with two sisters and a widowed mother, is well paced,
carefully planned, expertly executed.

Initially readers accustomed to over-written prose may stumble on
the gentle word choices, the subtle nuances employed by this
author. They may question the audible distance created between the
main characters and the reader. But patience is rewarded. A story
that operates on many planes, HOUSE UNDER SNOW explores the
relationships that women develop, inherit and pass on to their
children. It prompts readers --- both men and women --- to pause
and question, even examine the role to which they were born.
Alternating between an adolescent Anna and her younger naïve
self, Bialosky delivers a clean, clear description of a house where
death has taken its toll and continues to haunt the lives of its
inhabitants. "...our house was always in a state of winter, waiting
for someone to dig us out. Ours was like a house under snow, frozen
since the day our father died."

The ghosts that encircle the house in Chagrin Falls, Ohio are not
only of a father who fell while tending to the gazebo but also of
family members --- survivors of the Holocaust, of a young wife and
mother ripe with sensuality, of three young daughters safe in a
father's cocoon. They speak in whispers that rival the voices of
Anna, her mother Lilly, and her two sisters. They challenge the men
who tromp through the house, traipsing into the lives of one man's
family, trampling on the female semicircle created in the absence
of the one man who made their lives whole.

The pages slip by quickly as the pieces fall into place in this sad
tale told in a dry, unknowing --- yet wise --- voice of a teenager.
From the first chapter, readers discover that Anna returns home to
Chagrin Falls to organize her wedding. So from the very first,
readers are assured that Anna comes into her own and lives a life
free from the responsibilities she shouldered as a child. The
following 241 pages fill in the gaps and shed light on the
in-between --- from where she is now and how she got there. The
heartbreak of first love, the longing for normalcy, and the burden
of family ties all play a part of Anna's young life and create the
basis for HOUSE UNDER SNOW, a story that you will read once and
remember always.

Reviewed by Heather Grimshaw on January 22, 2011

House Under Snow
by Jill Bialosky

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • ISBN-10: 0156027461
  • ISBN-13: 9780156027465