Book Review: Wishing for Snow

Wishing for Snow

Minrose Gwin

Harper Perennial

240 pages

Minrose Gwin had quite the childhood.  Her father and mother divorced when she was very young, so she had no recollection of her father, and her mother remarried a man simply known as “The Salesman”.  Meanwhile, her mother, Erin Taylor Clayton Pitner, was what you might call a bit eccentric, which eventually developed into full fledged mental illness.  There was no point where it became obvious the Erin went from just a tad erratic to downright certifiable, although Gwin’s literary style may have made it disorienting, but more on that later.

The relationship between Gwin and her mother was very tragic.  There was a lot of contention between them later on, especially after Minrose had Erin committed later on, but even as a child, Erin did not appear to be a compassionate loving mother.  The bond between the two was weak, and maybe it had to do with the fact that Minrose’s father abandoned the two of them early on, annihilating Erin’s intentions to have a happy, cohesive family.  The man she chose to marry during Minrose’s childhood, “The Salesman”, did nothing to unify the family, and instead drove them further apart.  He was a complete jackass, and one scene towards the end of the book had me feeling sick to my stomach.  All I will say is that it involved a pony being dragged by a car.

The time period of the book added another layer to the narrative, with Erin being born in the 20s and Minrose being born in the 40s.  The climate in the South at that time was very traditional, and one example of the contention caused by the stigma at the time was when Minrose became pregnant with her daughter.  She married her daughter’s father early in the pregnancy, but when her daughter was born and it was obvious that she was not premature, and thus conceived prior to the marriage, Erin was shamed and irritated.

As for the writing style, which I hinted at earlier, it was very free flowing.  I liked the fact that Minrose chose to include portions of her mother’s childhood diary and her poems, although I thought she went overboard with the poetry.  Had she pared it down a little, I think I would have enjoyed it more.  However, the excessive poetry was somewhat cloying.  Poetry fans will like that aspect of the book though.  There was also no timeline as far as the narrative went.  Minrose jumped back and forth from one issue to another, from one decade to another and back again.  I thought it worked well for her, although there were a few instances where it became confusing.

Wishing for Snow, was, above all, a very thoughtful memoir.  One that I imagine took a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  Very worthy, although at times hard to read.

About Minrose Gwin

Minrose Gwin is the author of The Queen of Palmyra. She has written three scholarly books, coedited The Literature of the American South, and teaches contemporary fiction at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

Minrose’s Tour Stops

Thursday, July 7th: My Reading Room

Wednesday, July 13th: Reviews By Lola

Thursday, July 14th: Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms

Monday, July 18th: Knowing the Difference

Tuesday, July 19th: Lit Endeavors

Wednesday, July 20th: Cozy Little House

Tuesday, July 26th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Wednesday, July 27th: Lisa’s Yarns

Thursday, July 28th: Natty Michelle

Thursday, August 4th: she reads and reads

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

4 Responses

  1. I can think of a few poetry fans who might really enjoy this one – I’m glad you mentioned that aspect of the book!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  2. Wishing for Snow – the title sounds perfect now that we are in the middle of a heat wave!

  3. The book sounds interesting and like the kind of book I like, but I’m not sure about the free flowing writing style.

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