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In the wilderness, Jack runs their small farm single-handed at first , which is hard going and taking its toll on him. Mabel is stuck at home all day and is become increasingly lonely and depressed. Jack carves a beautiful face into the little girl they have built and Mabel places a hat and mittens on her. Night falls and they return to their little cabin. Jack enters the forest and catches sight of a young girl wearing the same hat and mittens, a young feral girl who seems to be living up in the mountains. The girl, named Faina, becomes friendly with Jack and Mabel and comes regularly to visit them, though she very rarely will enter their home.

With the help of Faina, the couple find that they are now becoming increasingly happier. The couple start to fall in love with Faina, but they still have no idea where she lives nor where she goes when she leaves them. As the story is based on a fairytale, there is a mixture of both fantasy and reality to it, which fit well together. That is for your own imagination to work out. The book is not a fast paced, roller coaster of a book. It is a slow yet enchanting read that some might find hard going.

The Snow Child

It is heart warming, yet gut wrenching at the same time, and you can feel all the emotions that the characters carry throughout the book. Faina, is this shy, reserved, child that you never fully understand. My copy of this book has been passed around from family member, to family member, all have enjoyed it. Eowyn pronounced A-o-win LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. She worked for nearly a decade as a bookseller at independent Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska, and prior to that as a reporter for the local newspaper, The Frontiersman.

Like us on Facebook — Follow us on Twitter. Misha Herwin. But one night, they let go of their grief and create a beautiful child out of snow Eowyn Ivey writes so vividly that I felt I was in the middle of the snow and then a full blown snow storm, and during the summer scenes, I felt the heat of the hot sun, the mosquitoes swarming.

This story is such a beautiful example of magical realism, the fantastical, the imagined, combined and layered into the every day real life. And such a life that this couple experienced in the Alaskan wilderness where nothing is taken for granted, where preparing for the upcoming winter is paramount all spring and all summer. I recommend this story to anyone that values the beauty and selflessness of true friendship, who has ever dealt with love and loss in their life, or to those who are parents, as this book speaks to the nature of giving, caring, nurturing, but eventually, having to let go And then, the wonder of the miraculous snow child appears out of nowhere There was something otherworldly in her manners and appearance, her frosty lashes and cool blue stare, the way she materialized out of the forest.

In ways she was clearly just a little girl, with her small frame and rare, stifled giggles, but in others she seemed composed and wise, as if she moved through the world with knowledge beyond anything Jack had encountered. View all 38 comments. With her sensational debut novel, Eowyn Ivey offers readers a healthy dose of rural Alaskan life balanced with a story that pulls on the heartstrings. Mabel and Jack have come to settle on the Alaskan home-front in the s, having left behind the busy Pennsylvania lifestyle to which they had become accustomed. Childless and in their 50s, Jack and Mabel are forced to forge their own way and subsist on whatever they can accumulate.

On the evening of the first snowfall of the season, Jack and Mabel venture out to build a little snow girl, adding all the accoutrements they can create, before turning in for the night. Mabel wakes the next morning to find the snow girl gone, likely destroyed by an animal. Unable to convince anyone, Mabel wonders if a story from her childhood has influenced her. When Jack finally meets the girls in the woods, sure that this is no longer an apparition that Mabel has concocted. Jack soon makes a discovery about which he tells to no one and invites the young girl to come live with them.

The as-to-now nameless girl soon admits to being called Faina, a unique name that both Mabel and Jack adopt with ease. While Faina is happy to live with her new parental figures, she also enjoys her independence and disappears on occasion, off into the woods, where she once made her home.

Mabel soon receives a package from her sister, one that includes the story read to her as a child. The piece explores the life of an older couple and their connection to a snow girl, though, like most fairy tales, the story takes a turn for the worse and has an ending that is anything but happy. Guarded with the knowledge of what might cause Faina to leave forever or disintegrate before their eyes , Mabel and Jack become protective of the child they always wanted but never could have.

As the years progress, Faina develops into a young woman with new issues that must be addressed, adding new layers of concern on the Alaskan home-front. Recommended for anyone with a penchant for slow evolving stories that find their action and suspense in the smallest developments. I had heard much about this book before I got my hands on it, with mixed reviews. I liked the premise and could not help but enjoy how the story evolved in the rural Alaskan communities.

I felt a connection to the story and characters, not distracted with busy city life or blazing gunfights. The characters are well-crafted, mixing backstory with development throughout this piece. Ivey does well the flesh-out the Jack and Mabel characters from the outset, balancing their current lifestyle against the reasons they fled Pennsylvania and everything they knew. The rough lifestyle contrasts nicely with the love they show one another and, eventually, Faina, who is equally interesting a character. Developed from the Russian fairytale that Mabel knows so well, the reader develops an somewhat deep seeded expectation of how Faina will act and what will become of her, though being touch by love in human form as opposed to animal changes her perspective on things.

The story, though not as fast paced as some would like, flows nicely and offers numerous symbols throughout. I cannot express how pleased I was to see the slow development never falter and how Ivey kept the reader enthralled, even if things did not happen at breakneck speed. As a very brief aside, it is addressed throughout parts of the novel that fairytales, while geared for children, tend to have strong negative outcomes at least until Disney morphs them and horrid happenings.

Many of the tales Neo and I have read together are gore-filled and nothing I would want to present to a child, as is The Snow Girl in reference to the story Mabel read as a child. Brilliantly developed for a debut novel and I am pleased I did not listen to those who panned this book quite heavily. Kudos, Madam Ivey, for this debut success. I will be reading your second novel and hope it packs as much punch as this one did for me. View all 22 comments. A beautiful, magic-tinged tale of an aging couple, the bleak Alaskan wilderness and a child who appears one day in the wood.

Mabel and Jack always wanted a child, but after suffering a miscarriage, they begin to lose hope of ever conceiving. Mabel suffers in female society without a child of her own.


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She begs Jack to take her to Alaska for a fresh start. He agrees. But it doesn't work. The weather is dark and freezing. The ground is hard and takes more effort than Jack can give. They aren't thrivin A beautiful, magic-tinged tale of an aging couple, the bleak Alaskan wilderness and a child who appears one day in the wood. They aren't thriving.

It was the flutter of moth wings on glass and the promise of river nymphs in the dappled creek beds. Mabel could not remember the last time she caught such a flicker. Then, out of the blue, a child magically appears during a snow storm. She is so light on her feet and silent, Jack and Mabel don't at first believe their eyes. The child travels with a fox and barely leaves prints to follow on the snow. A fairy-tale beast that holds young girls captive in a mountain cave? Or nothing at all, no child, no tracks, no door, only insanity bared in the untouched snow?

That is perhaps what he feared the most, that he would discover he had followed nothing more than an illusion. Mabel remembers a Russian fairy tale from her childhood, of a couple who builds a girl out of snow. In the story within the story, the girl becomes real. Could Jack and Mabel have created the child they have always dreamed of?

The little snow girl comes and goes with winter, but in the end she always melts. How will Jack and Mabel's story end? Recommended for fans of historical fiction and tales that contain magical realism.

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I thought The Snow Child was beautiful and well-told. Highly recommended. I truly enjoyed the experience of reading this beautifully written book! The author, Eowyn Ivey, has an unbelievably unique and astounding way with words. She paints such a clear picture that draws the reader right into the snow filled fields of the Alaskan homestead.

I was completely engrossed in Jack and Mabel's love story. The struggles they endured as a couple only made their bond stronger as husband and wife. I had endless sympathy for them as I witnessed their vulnerabilities as s 4 stars! I had endless sympathy for them as I witnessed their vulnerabilities as struggling farmers, their hopelessness at accepting that they could not bear children, their struggles to figure out where Faina fit into their world. I loved each and every character in this story - my most favourite being Esther, Mabel and Jack's "neighbour". She was outspoken and overbearing, yet she had such a warm, endearing way about her - it was like she commanded your love and respect without you realizing it.

She welcomed Mabel and Jack into her life with open arms and loved them like family from the moment she met them. Mabel, being a shy, reserved woman, didn't know how to handle Esther at first with her outgoing, take-charge personality. I giggled to myself a few times while reading their initial interactions. I was hesitant in picking up this book due to the "fantasy" aspect, however, the "magic" of this story is so well done that I was able to accept it and "run with it". While I didn't love this book quite as much as Ivey's most recent novel, To The Bright Edge Of The World, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading such a unique and beautifully written story.

View all 39 comments. This is a beautifully written book. The Snow Child is inspired by the Russian folktale in which a childless elderly couple make a snowchild that comes to life as a young girl. Ivey's use of the folktale is multilayered and inventive, and works very well in the book's setting of Alaska in the s. I cared about the characters, but I especially loved the depictions of the Alaskan wilderness throughout the seasons. The novel also pays homage to freedom and individuality, while at the same time cel This is a beautifully written book.

The Snow Child: A Novel | Washington Independent Review of Books

The novel also pays homage to freedom and individuality, while at the same time celebrating the bonds of friendship, love and trust that tie together friends and family. One theme that resonates with me is the importance of being a part of something larger than oneself - a family, a farm, a close friendship, nature. View all 13 comments. What happens when a childless couple, Jack and Mable, build a child out of snow during the season's first snowfall?

That is what happens. Set in rural Alaska, this book is atmospheric, eerie, hopeful, with an underlying sadness.

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The writing is beautiful, moving and takes the reader deep into Alaska and into the home of Jack and Mabel, into their lives, the lives of their friends, through the snow and int What happens when a childless couple, Jack and Mable, build a child out of snow during the season's first snowfall? The writing is beautiful, moving and takes the reader deep into Alaska and into the home of Jack and Mabel, into their lives, the lives of their friends, through the snow and into their hearts. Jack and Mabel have left Pennsylvania behind in search of a better quieter life.

They really don't know just how harsh winter can be in Alaska. How hard it will be to grow crops and keep livestock alive. The darkness and cold weigh them down. They feel they are drifting apart. Mabel, at one point, tries to drown herself but the ice has other plans and she returns home to spend the evening with her husband.

Both feel distant from each other. Both alone but living under the same roof. How lonely a life they have filled with sadness and longing for a child. They had a stillborn once but have no hopes that they will ever have a child again. I could literally feel the sadness seeping through the pages - drip drip drip. The longing, the loneliness, the sadness, the pain. Then one night they decide to tuck their loneliness away and venture outside and play as if they were children themselves.


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  • For one night they are able to forget their past loss, and be free. They play in the snow and fashion a child out of snow. They dress their "snow child" with a scarf and dress. The next day they see a little girl running through the woods with a fox as her companion. Could this young girl be their "snow child" They name her Faina. She brings change for both of them. The sadness that has been weighing them down melts away.

    Could this child, born of "ice and snow" be the answer they have been looking for. They begin to care for her and she them. They become a family. Faina comes and goes as she pleases, often disappearing to who knows where. She brings them gifts of berries and meat. Never really theirs but always a member of their family, Faina becomes their pride and joy. As the climate becomes warmer they begin to see her less and less until one day Ivey has a gift for making the snow and weather another character in this book. I could feel the coldness, the silence of the snow and ice seeping through the pages.

    This book is very atmospheric. It is also heavy on emotion. Sadness is an underlying emotion in this book. Often while reading this book, I wondered "what is real", "what is fantasy" and "does it really matter? Not all fairy tales have a happy ending. Will this one? See more of my reviews at www. View all 16 comments. There is a special kind of emptiness in a marriage, when both the partners long for a child without success.

    Their private moments change from solitude to loneliness: intimate chatter degenerates into monosyllables before ultimately descending into dark silence. The carefree laughter of a child, the picture of a smiling cherubic face, or the pitter-patter of small feet on the road all become exquisite torture - reminders of some esoteric happiness forever out of reach. I know I have been there There is a special kind of emptiness in a marriage, when both the partners long for a child without success.

    I have been there. It must be at least in part to tackle this anxiety creatively that fairy-tales use the trope of the childless couple quite frequently. The story is quite formulaic: there will be an old couple mostly on the edge of a wood who would have been longing for a child without success for ages. Finally out of desperation, the woman or in some cases, both the partners together would fashion a child's likeness out of some unlikely object such as wood or mud, treat it like a human child for one night, and - hey presto!

    The overjoyed couple would raise it as their own, but the story would usually end badly, with the breaking of some taboo resulting in the child going away. The snow maiden lives with her foster parents quite happily until she falls for a human boy against the express admonitions of Father Frost - the warmth inside melts her, and she fades away bringing spring to the countryside in the process. From myths. Everyone was cheered by the return of spring.

    Everyone that is except, the young shepherd who felt desolate and cold, despite the warmth of the sun.

    The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – review

    As for the old couple, they felt their loss deeply but, in their hearts, they had always known the magic could not last. They were just thankful for the beautiful snow maiden who had brought such warmth and joy to their lives and given them hope in the depths of winter. But what of the snow maiden? Well, it is said that, as she melted away, her spirit was caught by Father Frost who retreated to far lands with the advance of Mother Spring. He took the spirit of his daughter across the stars to the frozen lands of the north, where she again took the form of a beautiful young woman.

    Here she plays all through the summer - on the frozen seas. And they continue to work their magic, as they did long ago for the woodcutter and his wife, for those who are good and kind, particularly the children, bringing them small gifts and helping to make their dreams come true. Her protagonists are Mabel and Jack, who are trying to make a living on their farm, fighting against the unforgiving climate as well as life, which has given them only the memory of a stillborn child to live on. The couple are slowly moving apart, and Mabel is on the verge of suicide when, in one blustery night of mad gaiety they a fashion a girl out of snow in front of their cabin.

    Next day, the child is gone - and a wild girl starts visiting them, clandestinely at first, then more and more openly. The girl, Faina, is more or less adopted by the couple soon. Their close friends George and Esther initially consider the unseen girl as a hallucination conjured up by Mabel, but after the initial shock of meeting her in person, comes to accept her as she is.

    Their youngest son, Garrett, a boy of the forest himself is initially antagonistic. Well, as so often happens, antagonism changes to fascination, mutual attraction and love The beauty of this novel is that it does not follow the trope of the fairy tale blindly. Faina the child has a mysterious past as the daughter of an eccentric trapper who died in the forest. She lives off the wild, hunting and eating animals in a strangely feral manner.

    It is left to us to decide whether Faina is real or a phantasm. While such a style could easily become contrived, Ivey walks the tightrope expertly. There are times when we feel that the novelist is slipping into the realms of fantasy, but every time she pulls back just in time. Contrasted with Faina are Mabel and Jack, who are very real. Mabel, with her cultured upbringing and artistic tendencies, is the bridge that links the gritty and unromantic world of rural America to the poesy of the snowy slopes of the far north.

    In fact, the story is almost self-referential in the sense that Mabel owns a book telling the story of the snow maiden, which her father a literature professor used to read to her: however, she learns as an adult that he only pretended to read, because the tale is in Russian! Only the pictures make sense, including the terrifying last one of the melted maiden. We follow the characters with bated breath as they move along their pre-ordained paths - but the end, when it comes, is refreshingly different from yet absolutely faithful to the original. I will leave it at that.

    The Russian story of the Snow Maiden sees the battle between the eternal forces of nature Father Frost and Mother Spring for warmth to return to the land. And for spring to return, winter has to die. The theme and the interaction of these mythical characters with mortal people like Kupava and Mizgir through the character of the Snow Maiden, would have been very meaningful to people, who longed for and celebrated the return of spring.

    Birth, death, rebirth - these are the themes of ageless tales. There are no full stops in life, but an endless cycle of seasons through which we eke out our existence - brief candles, whose flames are ephemeral yet eternal at some level. Four well-deserved stars. View all 9 comments. Sep 22, Silvanna rated it it was amazing. A staggering talent. View all 7 comments. Shelves: lod , i-said. This incredibly beautiful story was inspired by and tenderly envelopes an Old Russian folktale. One evening an elderly, childless couple build a girl out of snow. Come morning it is missing, leaving faint footprints, from where the snow child once stood.

    Set deep in the Alaskan wilderness, the environment is like a mirror on our couple, one that Ivey breathes life into, through the many seasons of this tale. I loved the stark, majestic beauty of the always there and always demanding landscape. Ou This incredibly beautiful story was inspired by and tenderly envelopes an Old Russian folktale. Our couple, Jack and Mabel, have left Pennsylvania behind, with their still born child, and invested all they have in a homestead in Wolverine River, Alaska. Each of them pack up their own baggage, their own heartache, their own hopes, and they keep them close, insulating them from the memories of what might have been and from each other.

    But love has many rooms and Jack and Mabel have built a home. With the dream like quality of a good fairy tale I was quite simply enchanted. A simple story, a wonderful rendition, an enchanting cover…. View all 15 comments. Is she real or is this just a fairy tale? It didn't matter - the writing is just so amazing! This will stay with me for a long time. View all 20 comments. The Snow Child is based on an ancient Russian fairy tale, and like any good fairy tale, it touches the edges between what is real and what is imagined.

    Eowyn Ivey commands the language in such a beautiful, moving way, that it would almost not matter if the story was not spectacular. But, never fear, she couples all that almost poetic language with a story that is moving and captivating and mysterious. This is the kind of magical realism I can buy into. It is like good slight of hand, you cannot The Snow Child is based on an ancient Russian fairy tale, and like any good fairy tale, it touches the edges between what is real and what is imagined.

    It is like good slight of hand, you cannot stop yourself from believing what you see, or in this case what you read. All her life she had believed in something more, in the mystery that shape-shifted at the edge of her senses. It was the smell of oak trees on the summer evening she fell in love, and the way dawn threw itself across the cow pond and turned the water to light.

    I wanted so much for Jack and Mabel to find happiness and reward for their hard lives. I loved Fiana, who seemed to be so at one with nature and so self-sufficient, and yet so lonely. I did not read, so much as devour, this book. It is sweet and poignant and infinitely realistic. View all 31 comments. Shelves: location-usa-alaska , read , canada-alaska , theunreadshelfproject , around-the-usa , own. Well, I do believe I was wise to wait on reading this one because of the subject matter, but it is beautiful.

    It is about grief, survival, marriage, magic, and community. I read it while I was in Alaska, which added a lot of atmosphere, thinking about the people who can stick it out and survive such a place, and about this snow child who can't be too far from the ice and snow. It's a marvel to read it in that setting. I think I read the last pages without stopping, the morning after falling Well, I do believe I was wise to wait on reading this one because of the subject matter, but it is beautiful. I think I read the last pages without stopping, the morning after falling asleep reading it. I just kept reading, maybe even in my sleep.

    Also interesting to read it after To The Bright Edge of the World , when most readers probably encountered the books in reverse order. I already knew the Wolverine River, and the dangers, and the sometimes magical landscape View all 4 comments. You can read the short story here.

    This book An unhurried, ethereal, captivating dream - so captivating, that I cleared out my currently-reading shelf after the first two pages so that I could bask unhindered in the spell this book cast on me. Eowyn Ivey's debut tells the story of an old childless couple in the Alaskan wilderness, who shape a little girl from snow during the winter's first snowfall. What happens thereafter is pretty obvious. The first half of this book is absolute perfection. The Alaskan setting, the characters, the magic in the winter air - everything comes alive through Ivey's gorgeous prose.

    Somewhere past the halfway mark however, the story takes a detour from the original fairy-tale and things get impossibly more real with every page, finally ending on a note that's too bizarre to fully comprehend. The Snow Child constantly hovers on the border between illusion and reality , which may either be the book's strongest point or it's undoing, because if you think about the plot too long, many threads come untethered and threaten to unravel. Jack and Mabel are some of the realest characters I've ever encountered. I cannot claim to exactly understand their anguish; I'm too young for that.

    But I could feel it - in the silence, in the breath of the narration, in the things that were deliberately left unsaid. I understand how the absence of something or someone can haunt a person like a presence. I understand why seeking an explanation may not be so important when the thing you most desire ends up at your doorstep. On the contrary, the Snow Child herself, or Faina as she's called, never felt real to me. I'm guessing this was the author's intention.

    It works well in the beginning when Faina is more of an illusion, coming and going like a shadow. The second half adds or tries to add more substance to Faina - something I had trouble digesting - which is probably why it felt weaker in comparison. The entire story has an undercurrent of sorrow to it.

    In the beginning, Jack and Mabel grieve for what they never had. Once Faina enters their lives, this grief takes the form of a quiet desperation; the dread of losing what they now have, even though Faina is more of a phantom-child than a real daughter. Another thing that struck me was the occasional streak of violence. There are many animal killings in the book. Surviving in a landscape like Alaska would entail hunting for meat but in retrospect, I feel these scenes were strategically placed at intervals.

    Like the visual of blood on snow was meant to combat the fascinating idea of a child born of snow. Not much happens in the book plot-wise. Some of the most enchanting parts are also the quietest. It's like peering into a snow-globe - the scenery does not change; yet, there's something so captivating in simply watching the glitter settle, and also this feeling of fragility, like how the world inside the globe could shatter in a single fall. Fairy-tale or not, The Snow Child requires you to follow the rules of one: It doesn't matter why or how things happen; just that they happen. If you can do that, this book will take you on an enchanting journey.

    A stunning, stunning debut. View all 35 comments. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Poor Eowyn Ivey. Well, not literally. Its Big both novel, hence, pension. There is something, something, about screwing around with childhood folklore, which guar Poor Eowyn Ivey. There is something, something, about screwing around with childhood folklore, which guarantees instant and unconditional empathy. Inasmuch as we are all weaned on the magic of folktale generality, our first foray into making sense of the world, so that any return to it is so sacred an author needs only to wrestle failure out of guaranteed success.

    Ivey falls captive to the tale of Snegurochka, and tries her hand. Already she is ahead of the game. Running a bookshop in Alaska, she is no stranger to snow, remoteness, isolation, and the magical synechdoche of man and nature. An elderly couple in Alaska. A snow maiden. Is she real? Is she a fayrie? And then: Ivey reaches a stumbling block: I can picture her frantic tepishorean agony as she searches for a way forward, and A half baked incoherent denouement where maiden thrives in heat but melts in cold: huh, huh?

    A cold mother, a listless entity? Come on, Ivey: what did you do to Snegurochka? Child abandonment? Snegurochka abandons. But only those who are worthy. View all 11 comments. Amazing talent, beautifully delivered. This is a five sense book, and maybe a sixth and seventh as well. I could hear a bull moose snorting, swan screaming, snow crunching, river ice cracking. I could taste moose meat for the thirtieth and th time; smell wet wool and blood, birch fire and moonshine. I could touch the two-man saw, feel the weight of an ax, and the tiny threads of intricate embroidery.

    And always, always the snow and the earth beneath. I could see rows and rows of crops growing Amazing talent, beautifully delivered. I could see rows and rows of crops growing in the heat of the short Alaska season - in fact I dreamed about it last night. Sense of place is superbly developed, as expertly crafted as a prize winning pie, or a winter coat made reverently by hand.

    Ivey grew up in Alaska and clearly loves where she still lives. The characters in this debut novel are cradled, grown, tried and triumphed in the rugged, unforgiving wilderness. And out of the night in an Alaska blizzard, when grief and solitude are crusted around homesteader hearts, a little girl with pale eyelashes and a fur hat appears in the frost on the window. View all 6 comments. I am not sure I would have picked it up on my own.

    Without getting into plot points, I will just say that this novel, which begins in Alaska, is a fine example of magical realism. The author, Eowyn Ivey, does such a nice job jumping between these two elements that when she seamlessly combines them from time to time the reader finds themselves captured, in its grip, and not at all sure how they got there.

    Jack and Mabel are a couple who really do love each other, but not always doing a good job at it. In other words, they are normal in that regard. They move to Alaska after losing a child, and like any transplant are a fish out of water. Ivey captures that sadness in a subtle, and pitch perfect, manner. The author was inspired by a Russian fairy tale of the same name as this novel, and what she does with it moves along at a rapid clip. I read thru this book quickly.

    The plot in and of itself was not that interesting to me, which means that the characterization and sense of time and place propelled me through it. And they did!

    The Snow Child A Novel

    I was engaged in the lives of the characters. Jack and Mabel and the supporting cast are people I came to enjoy knowing. Ivey does a lot of showing in this book, almost never telling. Especially in regards to the Alaskan setting. The mark of someone with skills! I have not read a book in a while that I was as emotionally invested in. When the joys came I shared the elation, and the lows felt all too familiar as I journeyed with these people around that wheel of fate and fortune we call life. I read a review of this text that sums up my feelings perfectly.