A PERFECT SNOW by Nora Martin


Age Range: 14 & up
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A Montana teen flirts with involvement with a white-supremacist movement, and then fights to keep his brother out of it. Ben’s rage at his family’s poverty and the rich kids who lord it over him finds an easy outlet at the meetings his father takes him to, where the charismatic Lonn preaches against the Jewish bankers and developers he claims are changing the rural Montana way of life. A couple of nighttime forays into violence give Ben a feeling of power and worth unlike anything he’s ever known. Up to this point, the narrative is quite successful, but then Ben experiences a sudden change of heart brought about in part by his burgeoning romance with the free-spirited Eden and a reluctant friendship with a rich kid with whom he is doing community service. Virtually overnight, Ben realizes the danger involvement in the Guardians of the Identity represents, and he is revulsed by his prior actions and by his weak younger brother’s growing involvement. There is a difficulty inherent when writing about subjects such as these in formulating sympathetic characters who nevertheless think and do abhorrent things. Martin (The Eagle’s Shadow, 1997, etc.) nearly achieves this, but instead takes the easy path, making her protagonist an observer who rejects evil and chooses the moral high ground (building subsidized housing for the poor, no less). What could have been a truly provocative offering degenerates into another teen problem novel, albeit with a problem more inflammatory than most. Some of the feelings expressed by Ben ring with emotional honesty—“Making that car burn almost made up for every dirty look every name hissed at me from under some creep’s breath”—but others seem forced in their attempt to make Ben over into a good boy: “I went home from Eden’s realizing that she was the kind of friend and girlfriend I really wanted. But I needed to be the kind of person in truth that she thought I was.” Well-meaning but ultimately obvious. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-58234-788-3
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2002


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