As Simple as Snow
by Galloway, Gregory

In awe of high schooler Anna Cayne and her penchant for magic tricks and riddles, a man is baffled by her mysterious disappearance just before Valentine's Day and retraces the time they spent together for clues to her fate.

Gregory Galloway has an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He lives in New Jersey.

At one point in Galloway's first novel, a character says approvingly, "The Bible is full of contradictions and ambiguities and mysteries." Which is a pretty fair description of this fascinating but often frustratingly obscure book. Oh, the story is simple, as simple as snow: an average high-school boy, the narrator, meets and falls in love with an extraordinary, spooky girl, Anna, a Goth fascinated with mysteries, codes, ciphers, and ghost stories and whose self-imposed project is writing obituaries of everyone in their small town. When she finishes, she vanishes. Did she run away? Did she commit suicide? Was she murdered? The boy determines to find out. But does he? Well, suffice it to say, snow isn't really simple, and neither is this novel. Told in the boy's flat, often affectless, but oddly mesmerizing voice, the plot meanders all over the map and promises more than it ultimately delivers. But its ambiguities and unanswered questions, its teasing foreshadowings and forebodings, make it hard to forget. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

Engagingly written debut about a mysterious teenage girl's disappearance, and more's the pity: if Galloway were less sure and fluent, readers would be less likely to jump through his hoops before realizing he didn't know why they were doing it, either.Anastasia (Anna) Cayne transfers to Hamilton High and hangs out with the Goths, but the story's unnamed narrator-boyfriend (an angsty teenager down on hypocrisy, we'll call him Holden for convenience) discovers that the only resemblance between the Goths and Anna is the black mascara they both wear. Anna is accessorized with-if not completely composed of-a full set of cool outsider cultural tics. She spends her time writing fanciful obituaries for everyone in town; she introduces boyfriend Holden to Houdini, Poe, Rimbaud, Lovecraft, and Ambrose Bierce; plays him indie-rock music and shortwave broadcasts of mysterious counting voices; sends him messages in code, mysterious phrases, puzzles, and maps. Much remains unexplained about her even as she makes The Spooky and Unexplained part of Holden's life. Where did her bruises come from? Why doesn't her father have eyebrows? What was Anna's involvement in the car crash of loutish alpha Goth, Bryce? Why doesn't she like Mr. Devon, Holden's favorite teacher? When Anna disappears, her dress neatly laid out beside a hole in an ice-covered river, even more questions arise. Why was there a condom wrapper under Anna's couch, when Holden knew he'd disposed of his? Is Anna dead? Is she sending him messages, or is that just wishful thinking? Are the messages from the other side, or just from another town? Where did Holden's drug-dealing best friend go for two weeks? Why did Mr. Devon lie about where he's moving? Did the TV psychic really contact Anna? Who knows? And who cares? Like the puzzles and codes Anna sends, the questions either go unresolved, or if answered, lead nowhere.A pointless exercise that might work for the "I challenge you with my shocking style" YA crowd. Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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