Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?
When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.
Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.
ebook, 413 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by Tribute Books.
Three Stars: An enthralling read about old secrets and a girl hidden away for years trying to find her footing in the real world.
The loud banging reverberates through the small house. Sophie’s father hands her the gun and tells her it is up to her now to finish it. The police are at the door. He tells her again that everything he has done was to protect her from the harm that exists in the outside world, and reminds her that he loves her. The police woman barges in and finds seventeen year old Sophie huddled in her closet. Papa is hauled away and Sophie learns that she is the missing baby known throughout Idaho as Callidora. She was kidnapped by her father from her maternal grandparents when she was just a few days old. For seventeen years her father hid her away in the quiet hills of Arbon Valley. Sophie has been alone with no friends, except Damien and Donnie the boys that used to come and play when she was eleven. Now, Sophie is going to live with her grandparents and try to find her way in the real world. Can she really find love or is she truly under a curse?
What I Liked:
- I knew the minute I saw the synopsis that I had to read this one because it is set in Idaho, the state where I grew up. I am familiar with every single location in the book having traveled there on numerous occasions. The author does a wonderful job of bringing the Idaho setting to life. From the rural farm lands, the small towns and the culture right down to the green jello with carrots, a Mormon staple. I especially appreciated how she showed how difficult life can be in a small town that is predominately Mormon for an outsider due to prejudices.
- I was fascinated by the entire story and eagerly flipped the pages to learn how everything plays out. The book relates the tale of a young couple who engage in a forbidden love back in the early 1990’s. Fate tears them apart and they are separated. Each never forgetting the other, but the world is cruel and circumstances keep them away from each other until the fateful day of the birth of their illegitimate child. The girl is reared in a small house in the sequestered hills of the Arbon Valley. Not knowing that she was kidnapped. The reader sees the world from her sheltered and naive eyes, as she slowly tries to acclimate herself to her new surroundings. Sophie is convinced that she is cursed and that everyone who loves her and shows affection toward her will die. Imagine never having contact with anyone and being forced to live a strict lifestyle. Her story is engaging and interesting.
- I admired Stephanie, Sophie’s step cousin. She is a girl who attempts to rehabilitate Sophie and show her that some of the religious dogma she has beens spoon fed by her father is erroneous, along with the idea that Sophie is cursed. She tries to show Sophie the good in the world and shelter her from the evil that is roosting in her own home. I was heartbroken when I found out the truth about her past and why she almost ended her life. She is a strong and admirable young lady, who not only is fighting from the horror in her own life, but also against the prejudices that come from not being a part of the Mormon in-crowd that is the majority of the small town.
- I loved how Ms. Stanley was able to weave together the events of the past with the present in order to give the reader a full understanding of all the secrets, betrayals, heartache, mental illness and misfortune that led to Sophie’s kidnapping. In the end, the reader is presented with a fascinating, complex read with some surprising twists. I truly raced through the pages wondering how everything would come out for Sophie in the end. Could a girl surrounded by so much heartache and sadness find a bit a peace and happiness?
And The Not So Much:
- While I appreciated the author relaying the history and backstory behind the events, it was a little jumbled in its delivery. For instance, the story would flash back from present day to the early 1990’s and then to the mid 2000 years and then forward. There was no pattern for the glances to the past, and it tended to jump around a bit.
- The narration shifts from Sophie’s first person narration to a third person narration with a couple of strange interjections at the beginning of the chapters that were Sophie’s voice in present day looking back. I wish the book had stayed with one type of narration.
- I was disappointed that I didn’t get completion on the back story of Sophie’s Aunt Elise. She has a hand in the events that ultimately tear the young couple apart and it seems that she is haunted by her role. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any further expansion on her story. I wanted to know why she disliked Sophie, was it because of her guilt? What happened to Elise after Vee dies how did she deal with all the aftermath?
- I was very confused over a scene that occurs when Sophie attends a youth stake dance. There is a moment where it seems that there is some type of paranormal activity that leads her to Damien, but it is never explained. I was left scratching my head over that one and wondered just exactly what happened.
- There are some dark themes in this one such as suicide, sexual abuse, mental illness, betrayals and lies. A few times I feared that it was going to get uncomfortable as the story delved into some dark subjects. Thankfully, the author steers clear of the details and just eludes to the bleak material.
- I am not sure that I completely agreed with Sophie’s sudden change of heart at the end. She spends the entire book questioning her full existence and then it seems she is able to let it all go and just move on. I felt that her actions weren’t quite in line with her previous thinking and behavior. Furthermore, I was a little bothered by the fact that Sophie never received any kind of professional mental care after spending her entire life sequestered away. I think trying to acclimate a young girl to the outside world would definitely require the intervention of a mental health professional.
- Another storyline that was dropped and not finished was the involvement of the detective Carpo who worked on Sophie’s kidnapping case. He has an ulterior motive in trying to get Sophie’s story, and at one point he ends up driving her to Boise to see her father and then he just disappears after that leaving me wondering why he was even a part of the story.
The Color of Snow is a book that lingered with me for days after I finished reading it. This is a haunting and powerful story that covers so many different angles and events that snowball into heartbreak. Can a girl overcome her burdensome, lonely childhood and step into the real world and find a chance at love? It truly is a thought provoking read.
“I felt my body collapse into her. The relief was like a warm blanket on a windy night.”
“Just because she goes to church doesn’t mean she’s a good girl.”
“It rained all day; the sky was exceptionally gray. It was as if the weather was scripted for a day of sorrow.”
“I felt my secret was slowly killing me, and the only way I could get relief was to talk about it. I was still scared that once it was out, it would sprout wings and fly out of control.”
“These people are pathetic. They are so small town that they aren’t happy unless they are feeding off someone else’s pain. If you lived somewhere else, you wouldn’t have to deal with this.”
“One of these days you’ve got to just go for it. Hold your head high and don’t care about what people think or say.”
“People need religion because they need something to blame terrible things on, or give credit for the good. It’s used to make people feel guilty so they do what’s right.”
“It seems the more I learn about my life the more complicated and difficult it becomes.”
“That is life. You can either accept it or bury your head in the sand, but either way, eventually you must face it. It does no good pretending things will go away.”
A big thanks to Nicole at Tribute Books for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to visit Tribute Books for more information on this title and many others. Click on the tour banner to visit other stops on the tour.