author : mary casanova
pages : [hardcover] 264
favorite characters : owen & sadie
Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn’t said a word in eleven years—ever since the day she was found lying in a snowbank during a howling storm. Like her voice, her memories of her mother and what happened that night were frozen.
Set during the roaring 1920s in the beautiful, wild area on Rainy Lake where Minnesota meets Canada, Frozen tells the remarkable story of Sadie Rose, whose mother died under strange circumstances the same night that Sadie Rose was found, unable to speak, in a snowbank. Sadie Rose doesn’t know her last name and has only fleeting memories of her mother—and the conflicting knowledge that her mother had worked in a brothel. Taken in as a foster child by a corrupt senator, Sadie Rose spends every summer along the shores of Rainy Lake, where her silence is both a prison and a sanctuary.
One day, Sadie Rose stumbles on a half dozen faded, scandalous photographs—pictures, she realizes, of her mother. They release a flood of puzzling memories, and these wisps of the past send her at last into the heart of her own life’s great mystery: who was her mother, and how did she die? Why did her mother work in a brothel—did she have a choice? What really happened that night when a five-year-old girl was found shivering in a snowbank, her voice and identity abruptly shattered?
Sadie Rose’s search for her personal truth is laid against a swirling historical drama—a time of prohibition and women winning the right to vote, political corruption, and a fevered fight over the area’s wilderness between a charismatic, unyielding, powerful industrialist and a quiet man battling to save the wide, wild forests and waters of northernmost Minnesota. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the haves and the have-nots, to the power of family and memory, and to the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way—but is utterly determined to find it again.
I was originally interested in this book because the concept of an event being so traumatic that it leads to over a decade of silence was interesting to me. But the novel behind the idea seemed to fall flat. It almost felt like there was a good idea, right within reach . . and then everywhere it could have turned in that direction, it went the other way.
I’m trying not to spoil, so one of the main things that annoyed me cannot be detailed. But things from the past that I thought she would have trouble remembered, she recalls with intense detail at the strangest moments and it makes it feel as though she has had these memories with her all along. More than that, she can’t seem to decide whether she wants to fight for herself or give into other people’s expectations of her, sometimes in ways that make no sense.
The romantic interest seemed to be thrown in as a last minute detail. Actually, many parts of the story seemed to be underdeveloped, something I think could have been solved by making the story longer. There were portions of it that were interesting and I wanted to learn more about that were simply left behind and never mentioned again, something that greatly distracted my reading.
I had high hopes for Frozen, but they grew colder the longer I immersed myself within the pages. Especially the ending. While I did like the turn that it took, again, it fell flat and just felt monotonous.