Today is also the release day of Lauren St John’s The Snow Angel. Set in Kenya, this middle-grade/teen read is a beautiful story that is magically original & jam-packed with emotion.
I was sent an eARC of this book by Zephyr in return for an honest review.
This book initially caught my attention because of the fox on the front cover! Sadly, when I read the book, I found that the fox didn’t actually feature as much as I’d hoped, but The Snow Angel was still an incredible read & one that I want to recommend to everyone.
The Snow Angel follows the story of young Makena who has her world torn apart in an incredibly tragic way; as the story goes on we’re shown the incredible strength that young girls can muster when they’re forced to face things that no child should face. Makena’s story was so, so emotional & brought me to tears more than once; but I also smiled a lot. Makena’s heartbreak leads to her meeting a witty, strong-willed orphan called Snow – nicknamed such due to being Albino, who helps her to survive in the slums of Kenya. One night something horrific occurs within the slums & the girls become separated, throwing Makena’s life on its head all over again, but when Makena is rescued, she is shown a great deal of kindness which leads to her life finally starting to repair itself.
As I said, this book was a total whirlwind of emotion – I had my heart broken more than once, but then had it fixed again by Lauren St John’s brilliant writing. Lauren has tackled a handful of difficult subjects, from losing your parents, to living within poverty, & in my opinion, she’s done a really good job of it. My stomach dropped when Makena found out about the demise of her parents, & it continued to drop during her stay with her not-so-kind relatives. But, my faith in the world was restored with the arrival of Snow.
The inclusion of an Albino character was something very different, as I honestly can’t think of another book where one is included, & it taught me some things that I had never really considered before. I had absolutely no idea about the stigma & superstition that is thrown upon Albino individuals & learning what they have to deal with, especially in Africa, was a real shock. I hate how this world operates & how cruel some people can be, & this book really highlighted those feelings for me, & not just because of the judgement on Snow. Poverty was also something that was displayed very clearly in this book & reading about it was truly painful; it was heart-rendering to know that there are people in this world that still suffer so much, despite how much money there is in the west. The issues surrounding rich men taking advantage of poor and/or orphaned children in areas such as the Kenyan slums were also included in this story & that honestly made me feel sick.
There was some real positivity displayed in this story as well though – the friendship that was built up between Makena & Snow was wonderful to see & I loved reading about how they spent their time, trying to entertain themselves. I also loved the positive-attitude that Snow held, especially despite the trauma she had personally experienced. Further kindness is also shown after Snow & Makena become separated, when Makena is rescued by some women who run their own children’s home. Reading about the two women’s story & being reassured that there are people out there who are trying to help people stuck in poverty, was very warming & the ending of the book was very sweet. I have one very small issue with this part of the story though – as a white person I can’t really comment, but it did occur to me that some POC may not like that Makena was “saved” by a white, British woman; I haven’t seen anyone else mention this yet but it was something that bothered me a tad.
My only other criticism of this book is that it wasn’t longer – I feel like the time between Makena waking up in the children’s home & her going on her trip was quite rushed & the book definitely could have benefited from putting some more thought into that period of time. I also would have liked the white fox (Makena’s guardian angel?) to have been included more, but that’s just because I love foxes! This book is bound to be a success & I personally think it would make a wonderful Christmas film!
Unfortunately, The Snow Angel isn’t available on Audible right now, but I’m hoping it will be in the future!