Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mini-reviews: Drama High and The Snow Child

Levittown, Pennsylvania is a poor town that most residents never leave. But the town sometimes comes together for a theatre production by the local high school. Lou Volpe is a teacher who stretches his students and guides them to wining national competitions. In fact, the department is so admired that they are the first high school to stage shows such as Rent, Les Miserables, and Spring Awakening. 

Drama High follows a small group of students as they stage a show and their teacher/director as he approaches retirement. The author is a former student of Volpe and his admiration for the man is evident on every page. The book is part biography of Volpe, part insight into what it is like to be in high school, and part exploration of just what makes this drama department so special.

While I enjoyed reading this book and certainly appreciate the effect that an amazing teacher has on his students, I was never convinced that this needed to be an entire book. Mr. Sokolove is a newspaper writer and I found myself thinking that the story of Lou Volpe and Truman High School would have been better told as a series of articles.

Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater
By Michael Sokolove
Riverhead Books September 2013
352 pages
From my shelves

Jack and Mabel are almost at the end of their ropes. They are not young anymore and the Alaskan winter is bitter and lonely. Although they love each other, their relationship is strained by their inability to have children. One snowy night, they make a child out of snow. The next day, their creation is gone but they catch glimpses of someone in the woods wearing the snow child's red mittens. Could their desire have been strong enough to actually bring a child to life?

 The Snow Queen was a really unique read for me. Ivey does an incredible job of portraying the intense loneliness of living in the middle of nowhere through a bleak, freezing winter. Jack and Mabel are both stubborn and unwilling to saddle their loved one with their worries. The story seems both incredibly realistic and wonderfully fanciful. Once the little girl comes into the story, the magical seems close enough to touch and you might wonder what you will see if you go out into the woods on a snowy night. The bonds formed throughout this book are strong - Jack and Mabel's attachment to this land that they work, their love for each other, their care for their neighbors, and the worry they have for the strange little girl who appears on their doorstep and then disappears out into the wild. Is the magic real? Maybe. But the dexterity with which Ivey moves from deep grief and loneliness to love and wonder is magical to experience. 

The Snow Child
By Eowyn Ivey
Reagan Arthur Books February 2012
386 pages
From the library


  1. Oh, I remember reading The Snow Child! I liked the fairy tale feel it has, and being left to wonder what's real in it, and what's not. Such a good book. I think she has a new one out, or coming out soon: To The Bright Edge of the World. I don't even know what it's about, but I know I want to read it. :)

  2. I loved The Snow Child! It was mesmerizing.