Book Review: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis / @zaralibrary

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Category: General Adult Fiction
Author: Danya Kukafka
Format: Advanced Reading Copy (ARC), 368 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
ISBN: 978-1-5011-4437-0
Pub Date: August 1, 2017


Summary from Publisher:

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.

  • From Goodreads

Book Review:

The novel, Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka, is an exquisite, lyrical telling of three different narratives: one by Cameron Whitley, a deeply sensitive and troubled young man, whose focus, desire, and love spirals into obsession; Jade Dixon-Burns, an angry and spiteful, young woman whose jealousy and self-pity compels her to darkness and brooding; and Russ Fletcher, an officer burdened with the task of solving the mystery of Lucinda Haye’s murder and the ramifications of his own past.

The book is both beautiful and terrifying, a haunting soliloquy to loneliness, heartbreak, and revenge. The characters are flawed and vivid, their weaknesses also their haunting strangeness, but are also able to invoke in readers, a quiet empathy and tenderness. This is especially impressive since the plot also involves the mysterious treachery of murder—a murder which could easily implicate several characters in the novel.

Yet, the skill in this novel, too, is its ability to build itself in waves of narrative that is not only introspective, but thoughtful; poetic, yet wrought with believable realism. The death of Lucinda Hayes, is an opportunity for the other characters to grow, if not slowly become reborn as one usually does in trauma and crisis.

And while the writing is lyrical, it is also easily readable, a page-turner if there was an epitome of one, a book I had only read and was engrossed in for a mere two days.

The irony here, is, while Lucinda Hayes’ death means her absolute absence as a character in the novel, the three narratives by the other characters are so overwhelmed with their focus on her death, that though she is absent, she is also ever-present in their thoughts, in their wonder, and in their grief.

But, it is not all poetry and flowers—the book does put in question how easily mob thinking can arise through the epidemic of gossip and crisis, how the act of appearing sad is as inevitable as grief itself, how judgement is as coarse as it is easily thrown about to any suspecting person, and how incrimination is just as harmful as guilt.

And there are a few surprises with the help of secondary characters: Éduoard “Zap” Arnaud; Ivan Santos; Inés Santos; Mr. Thornton; Howard Morrie; and Lee Whitley—all whom play an essential part in raising the plot to its climactic revelation.

What I love about this book, aside from its lyrical cadence, is its testimony to the internal life, how history has a way of unfurling itself from the honest, and sometimes dark desires we feel compelled to surrender to. How these desires can sometimes take us to not only dark places, but thrust us into acts we might not otherwise think to commit.

Danya Kukafka is a young writer with an obvious gift for her craft; her prose, mature, and her introspective characters: haunting, scarred, and beautiful. It’s a wonder that this is only her first novel and yet thrilling to anticipate what work, stories, and narrative she might later share with the literary world.

In that sense, Lucinda Hayes, then, did not die in reckless abandon or vain.


Characters: 5 stars
Plot: 4.5 stars
Language/Narrative: 4.5 stars
Dialogue: 4 stars
Pacing: 5 stars
Cover Design: 5 stars


Zara’s Rating

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A special thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an advanced reading copy (ARC) of the book, Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka in exchange for an honest and timely review.


About the Author:

author - danya kukafka

Danya Kukafka is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She currently works as an Assistant Editor at Riverhead Books. Girl in the Snow is her first novel.

  • From the novel


You many contact Danya Kukafka on her official website, Twitter, and Goodreads.



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