Read Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen Online


Book Details: Format: Hardcover Publication Date: 11/10/2011 Pages: 256 Reading Level: Age 10 and Up ...

Title : Snow in Summer
Author :
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ISBN : 9780399256639
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Snow in Summer Reviews

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2019-04-26 15:06

    Full review, first posted on in Summer is Jane Yolen’s 2011 middle grade/young adult retelling of Snow White, set in the Appalachian hills of West Virginia in the 1940s. The main character is Snow in Summer, a girl named by her mother after the white Cerastium flowers that carpet their front yard. Her mother dies in childbirth when Summer is seven years old, and her father completely withdraws in his grief, neglecting Summer, who gets along with the help of her mother’s best friend Nancy. When Summer is eleven, her father is entranced by a sophisticated, cruel woman who married him to get her hands on the land he owns. Her father’s health begins to fail (helped along by Stepmama), but he barely hangs on, as does Summer. Her stepmother, who calls her “Snow,” treats her harshly and isolates her from Nancy and everyone else in her life. Stepmama is secretly a user of black witchcraft, complete with potions, a magic mirror, and other trappings of her “Craft.”The story is told in first person, primarily by Snow in Summer herself, but periodically there is a chapter from Nancy’s or Stepmama’s point of view. Nancy mostly discusses her concerns about Snow in Summer; Stepmama, while assuring us that she is “not a wicked woman,” meditates her plans for “Snow”: either win her trust and bring her to the Craft (which plan includes, by the way, stealing seven years of Snow’s life to maintain Stepmama’s youth), or kill Snow and use her heart for witchcraft purposes. There’s an intriguing conflict between the two parts of Snow in Summer’s name, with those who love her calling her “Summer” and those with evil intentions calling her “Snow.” This is also echoed in the dichotomy between her joyful life as a very young girl and the painful years after her mother dies and her stepmother joins her family.Snow in Summer has an unusual (for fantasy) Depression-era Appalachian setting, with a touch of magical realism. Summer’s father, for example, has magical “green fingers” (like a green thumb, only better) and Cousin Nancy assures Summer that the caul from her birth has magical properties. This rather realistic setting is combined with more fantastical elements of black witchcraft and German fairy tales ― a combination that sometimes seems rather disjointed. The “dwarves,” for example, are six rather short, wiry miners from Germany: they have a younger, seventh brother who is studying at the university, but then they also have a peculiarly intelligent pet bear who guides (or drives) Summer to their mountain home and then protects her from danger … albeit not entirely successfully. It’s a bit meta when Summer specifically mentions being familiar with the Snow White fairy tale, and she’s fully aware of her evil stepmother’s magical mirror and her plans to use a Hunter to kill her, but she still frustratingly and inexplicably makes the same near-fatal mistake that the Snow White made in the original tale.As part of Stepmama’s diabolical plans, she infiltrates and uses a creepy evangelical church that focuses on “signs” like being able to survive snakebites and drinking poison. Vilifying a group’s religious beliefs, even if they seem misguided, ridiculous or repugnant, may leave some readers with an uncomfortable feeling. Similarly, the black magic practiced by Stepmama, although not described in a great amount of detail, is rather creepy and may be off-putting for some young, sensitive readers.While Jane Yolen’s writing is evocative and thoughtful, as usual, Snow in Summer is a bit of a slow, odd story ― until the ending, which feels rather rushed. Despite its weaknesses, I recommend this to readers who are fond of unusual fairy tale retellings with some darkness.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-12 10:04

    Jane Yolen conjures a Grimm fairytale in the depths of the Appalachian wilds in Snow in Summer.In a voice appropriate for the place and time (late 1930s) Snow-in-Summer Morton tells us how, when she was seven, her mama died, and her father retreated so deep into his grief he may has well have died, too. Summer has been mostly raised by her kind Cousin Nancy……until the day Papa brought a strange woman back from the old graveyard and married her. Summer’s stepmama, an unfriendly creature incapable of a genuine smile, insists on calling the girl Snow, and this is one of a hundred hints that something is terribly wrong.While Summer narrates most of her tale, Cousin Nancy occasionally interjects her worries about the child and her rebuffed attempts at help, while the Stepmother lets us in on her sinister motives for taking over this grieving family, slowly isolating father and daughter from their community support network. When Summer hits puberty, her Stepmama’s horrid plan—involving stolen years and the consumption of a human heart—can finally be put in motion. Afraid for her life, the girl, pursued by a hunter, flees into the wilds…The only major problem I had with this book is that the character standing in for Snow White’s prince only appears in the last five pages or so. We know that he likes books and he’s nice, and that’s all. The emphasis of the book, granted, is on the fractured family in the tale, not the romance, but Willy sounded like a fine young man and I would have loved to hear more about him. Everything else is quite enjoyable. Yolen’s narrative voice feels authentic, and the three developed characters—Summer, Nancy, and the Stepmother—are simple but vivid. There is quite a bit of talk about menstruation, childbirth, and the blood shed during both, making the book inappropriate for very young readers. Any kid twelve years or older should be fine.The positive portrayal of Catholicism is a welcome touch. Mia Araujo's cover art is right up there with Kinuko Craft's paintings for Juliet Marillier's Wildwood books. It's a beautiful painting containing dozens of plot-relevant details. More covers should look like this!

  • Jessica
    2019-05-07 13:58

    A wonderful, strange, and deliciously creepy version of Snow White. Set in the mountains of West Virginia during the mid-Twentieth Century, Yolen doesn't have to get bogged down with creating a whole new fantasy world, instead she assumes you understand the setting, and uses spare language to tell you the story in her own way. I couldn't put this down!

  • Lucy A. March
    2019-05-11 10:24

    Okay, not to be rude, but if Jane Yolen is the "Hans Christian Andersen of America," then I'm Emily freaking Bronte. What is WITH the lousy Snow White books lately? Have people suddenly decided to put forth NO effort in adapting this tale? Sadly, this one really should have been good, because its premise was actually sort of brilliant. A 1930s Snow White living in the mountains with a stepmother who attends a snake handling church and has a fixation with poisons? SIGN ME UP! It's kind of like The Brother's Grimm Tale meets V.C. Andrews' Heaven! Except the novel fails to deliver. Things are set up, never explained. And this is actually OKAY if you set up a story TO be an unexplained "telling" tale (look, I'm not the biggest fan of the film "Pan's Labyrinth", particularly because it makes me sob angry ugly tears when it gets to the ending, but it's a good example of a story that doesn't try, NOR CLAIM TO TRY, to explain its own premise beyond 'here it is, goodbye' and moderately succeeds); but this book never attempted to be that. We never find out what the stepmother's deal is, for one thing. We hear a lot of gibberish in her garbled POVs about taking seven years from her stepdaughter's life and the girl being too strong or some such rubbish but this is never explained or expanded on. Was the stepmother just looking for an excuse to kill this child? The ONLY part of her evil plot that was explained was wanting to take Snow White's (Summer's) father's land. Also we're told she got her magic mirror from her master whom she killed even though she loved him, but we're never told what/who he was. Which is vexing because so much of the character's feelings, reactions, and how she treats others (notably Summer) is centered around her supposed relationship with this enigma. Secondly, Summer is one of those characters whose intelligence appears to wax and wane with the needs of the author's plot. When she needs to be smart, she is. When she needs to be an idiot, she totally is. I HATE when writers do that. It's LAZY. And if there is one pet peeve I have as a fellow writer myself, it's lazy people who get published while I work my butt off and spend my lonely, broke late afternoons re-labeling the emails in my rejection folder. (Yeah, I may be a little bitter, but I'm not WRONG). Look, there IS no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect characterization, but when an author PUTS FORTH EFFORT IT SHOWS and that more than makes up for it. Where was the effort in this book? Summer could have been a GREAT character. Simply because she is a people-pleaser and it is VERY RARE we get a people pleaser as a main character because most writers find them spineless and sadly don't bother writing those types of personalities. Yolen's character just showcases WHY this distain for people-pleasers exists instead of proving it wrong. What I hate most about this book's laziness is that it's a children's book. It's like saying, oh kids are dumb, why do they deserve well-plotted/characterized literature? On that subject, by the way, this SHOULD NOT have been a children's book. If Yolen had a more tongue-and-cheek style she could have gotten away with it, but with how she writes, she really needed to just throw in the towel, expand the story, dark themes included, and market it to YA instead of middle-grade. Instead she just glosses over the dark stuff and makes it very condescending as a whole. Also what the bloody heck was the point of the romance in this book? We literally never even get to see the eventual blissfully wedded couple meet or engage in so much as a simple conversation. It's like Yolen just stared down at the almost finished book and went, "Oh, crap, there's no 'prince'! We can't have Snow White without a Prince Charming! What about Hunter? No wait, he's older, it's creepy, and this is a middle grade book... um... Uh... I know, the dwarfs' brother! Problem solved." Ugh. She should have just not had a romance at all if it was going to be this freaking lazy. Not a great Snow White book at all. I'm open to recommendations if any commenters know of better ones.

  • Ranting Dragon
    2019-05-15 15:22 Yolen’s latest novel, Snow in Summer, is a wonderful addition to her series of reinvented fairy tales. Like her earlier Briar Rose, this is a dark retelling of a Grimm fairy tale—in this case, Snow White instead of Sleeping Beauty. It follows a girl named Snow in Summer, who tells the tale of her childhood in retrospect as she grows up in the mountains of West Virginia. It was published in November of 2011 by Philomel.To clear a few things upOver and over again I’ve seen this book described as a “Depression-era Snow White.” It’s really not. Summer, as the protagonist prefers to be called, gives us enough information to deduce that she was born in 1937, at the very end of the Great Depression. Most of the action takes place when Summer is between the ages of eight and fourteen, and therefore between the years of 1945 and 1951. Granted, Summer is a poor girl growing up in a poor community for which not much had changed since the 1930s, but, for me, most of the flavor of this book comes from the culture of that region of Appalachia and not from the time period itself. The book is populated with the folk music and traditions of the Scotch-Irish people that predominate that area of the United States, and those influences situate the book in its time and place far more solidly than any reference to exterior socioeconomic or political happenings could.Not the story you thought it wasAs with other fairy tale retellings by Yolen, Snow in Summer is a dark tale. Unlike many versions of Snow White which place the majority of action after Snow White leaves her father and stepmother to live with the seven dwarfs, Yolen places most of the action while Summer is still living with her parents. There’s a great deal of introduction to Summer and her father before the wicked Step-mama ever shows up. Once that occurs, the main thrust of the book then turns to Summer’s relationship with her Step-mama. Since we all know that Snow White and the Wicked Stepmother do not get along, it should hardly surprise you that this relationship is outright abusive and Yolen does not hold back on that front.Short and sweetAs with all of Yolen’s work, the writing here is par excellence. Yolen is a master at telling her readers exactly what they need to know in as little time as possible with such style and grace that you never feel rushed through something, and you never feel confused. This is a relatively short book and a very quick read, but it’s still satisfying for all of that. There are no unanswered questions and no pieces of plot left to dangle in dark corners. As usual with Yolen, the prose is simply exquisite. Because of its relative simplicity but its very dark subject matter, it’s hard to place this book in any one age category. The library I borrowed this book from has it in its juvenile chapter book section, meant for children under the age of twelve. While the book is presented in such a way that I have no doubts that many children that age will be able to grasp it, the subject matter itself will push many others to qualify it as a young adult book. Because of the wonderful writing style, I’m also sure that adults looking for a quick read will not be disappointed, either.Why you should read this book?If you’re a fan of Jane Yolen, or if you’re a fan of retold fairy tales, this is a wonderful selection. If you’re looking for a well-written book for young readers, look no further! However, if the subject of child abuse makes you uncomfortable in any way, this is not the book for you. It is very plain, very in your face, and very frankly discussed. Nothing is glossed over for your comfort. Granted, the book is such a quick read that you don’t spend much time with it, but do be warned.

  • Liv Fisher
    2019-05-10 15:19

    Oh my word. What a perfectly paced, deliciously creepy book. o.O

  • Hylary Locsin
    2019-05-01 08:18

    Originally posted on my blog: ! Check it out for more reviews!Snow-in-Summer Morton’s life changed forever at age seven when her mother died in childbirth, leaving her alone and her father, Lemuel, with a broken heart. Cousin Nancy, the widow of Summer’s father’s favorite cousin who was recently killed in World War II, helps to care for Summer after her father slips into a deep, dark grief unable to cope with the death of his beloved wife. One day, four years later, now eleven-year old Summer is shocked when Lemuel returns with a mysterious but beautiful woman. Cousin Nancy and the rest of the townsfolk in Addison, West Virginia fear that Lemuel has become bewitched by the enchanting woman. When Lemuel quickly marries her, Summer hopes that she, her father and her new Stepmama will be able to form the family she’s longed for. As the years pass, however, Summer begins to realize that Stepmama is far from loving. Stepmama seems to have Lemuel in some kind of spell causing him to become withdrawn and unaware. In the meantime, Summer is subjected to abuse and eerie behavior at the hands of the woman, while Cousin Nancy can only look on in worry about her goddaughter. One day, Summer happens into Stepmama’s room where she encounters a strange mirror that seems to speak to her. The mirror warns of danger, danger that threatens to end in Summer’s death. Will Summer ever be able to escape the clutches of the woman that has appears to have bewitched the entire town and save her father’s life?From award-winning author Jane Yolen comes this enchanting re-telling of the classic Snow White story set in 1940s Appalachia. The author is clearly a masterful storyteller as Snow in Summer flows easily and quickly from start to finish. Although it is relatively short, the characters are well-thought out and effective in allowing the reader to venture into the world of Addison, West Virginia. Yolen’s enthusiasm for the town, which she states in the beginning was the birthplace of her late husband’s family, is evident throughout the book. The rolling mountains, lush greens, and simple way of life all play an important role in setting the tone of the novel. Although Summer’s story is based on a very well-known tale, Yolen’s interpretations make for a fresh take on the classic. Summer’s creepy Stepmama as well as her kindly Cousin Nancy help narrate the plot, allowing the reader to see exactly what is going on inside the mind of the “wicked stepmother.” Overall, an excellent novel for tweens, teens or anyone who is a fan of Snow White or the American south. I picked this novel up by chance after seeing that Jane Yolen was the author (I am very familiar with her books for younger children.) I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this quiet but intriguing version of Snow White! One of my favorite parts of the novel was the setting. It is clear that Yolen has a passion for the area, it being the home of her husband’s family, and I thought that all of the local names for plants, customs of the people of Addison, and the time period were very charming. I would highly recommend this novel to tweens, teens, or adults. It is short but excellent!

  • Briana
    2019-05-21 10:03

    Snow in Summer sounds as if it has an interesting premise. As a retelling of “Snow White” in West Virginia, it leads readers to expect a unique, more contemporary twist on the fairytale, perhaps like Suzanne Weyn’s retellings of “The Frog Prince” (Water Song) and “Rumpelstiltskin” (The Crimson Thread). Unfortunately, Snow in Summer is rather dull and barely draws on its setting at all.If not for the summary, it might be difficult to tell that the book is in fact set in West Virginia. Summer might mention the fact once or twice, and she is clearly living in some mountains where it is much more common to be Protestant than to be Catholic—but none of this adds anything to the story. Summer’s father has a unique connection with the land, which contributes to the plot, but it is fair to say that Yolen could have put him anywhere with enough land to farm on—a fantasy land, a real one, a different country or a different time period—and the book would barely change.It is important, however, that her father has this land because most of the book is actually about him, at least indirectly. The book is an enormously long set-up explaining his grief over his wife’s death, how he then meet’s Summer’s stepmother, and how the stepmother plots to destroy him so she can take the land for herself. Summer narrates all this, but she is a rather passive character. The parts of the book not about her father tend to be her excuses for why she allowed her stepmother to take advantage of her—basically that she was just so young and did not know any better.The whole “Snow White” part kicks in only at the very end of the story. Summer encounters the magic mirror a few times, but the attempted murder, little men, death, and marriage occur very quickly all bunched together at the end of the book. It is extremely unsatisfying. And although there is a marriage, there is no romance at all. Several years magically pass without mention in the book between the point where Summer meets her future husband and when she actually marries. (Incidentally, Summer loves fairytales and even mentions “Snow White” at one point; this is very disconcerting to readers, but strangely meaningless to her since she falls for the old woman at the door act anyway.)Snow in Summer is essentially a lot of set-up and very little substance. Yolen tries to make the tale original with the stepmother’s unique form of magic, but the explanations are so vague it is unclear what exactly this is, and with the setting, but she does not take advantage of it. The book is rather disappointing.Also posted at Pages Unbound Book Reviews.

  • Chanae
    2019-05-18 16:06

    A very different re-telling of Snow White. One of the weird things about it is Summer (the Snow White character) loves to read fairy tales - one of which is Snow White.... so it's a little odd that the main character, who has read the story of snow white doesn't recognize that same story unfolding again with her.It was an okay book but it was mostly just something for me to read - I was kind of bored with it. Luckily it was an easy light read. Questions not answered: What "power" does the caul have? Why did it affect the stepmother? I don't get it. How could a bear be a pet? I mean really. If there was a whole 'church' of people who used magic like the stepmother why didn't other people know about it - and then recognize the stepmother as the witch she was? Why were there 7 brothers (the dwarf characters) and 6 of them were actually small men, while one was not...Did schools in the 1930's really have home ec classes? When Summer mentioned she learned to hem in home ec that kind of surprised me. So... the white owl that Summer saw twice - I'm guessing that is supposed to be her mother some-how since the mirror said she would she her twice... but why a white owl? Each chapter is told by someone - mostly Summer, but a few chapters are titled - Cousin Nancy Remembers, or Stepmother Remembers... but then at the end the Stepmother dies, so.... how could she remember and tell her side of the story. . . . . . just wondering.So... the story just seemed lacking - with lots of unanswered questions, strange things happening (the evil church scene was really weird), and to be honest I didn't really care about the characters. I didn't care that the father was under a spell and slowly dying, I didn't care about Cousin Nancy, I didn't care that Summer was almost killed and had to run for her life or that she was almost killed again... I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone. I just didn't enjoy it.

  • Nancy
    2019-05-12 12:15

    A light weight Snow White retelling that is set in the 1940's WV Appalachian mountains. Snow in Summer's mother dies in childbirth when Summer is a child, and her father mourns heavily. A few years later he is enchanted by a mysterious woman who knows magic and secretly wants to kill him so she can sell his property to the railroad barons. At first she wants to take Summer as her apprentice, but when she isn't so easily molded, she decides to have her killed too. While the story had a good start with an evocative magical-realism plot and accurate details of that region (cougars called painters, cauls & a snake handling church), it veered off into a rushed and odd ending.

  • JennLynn
    2019-05-12 11:58

    I know Jane Yolen is a masterful storyteller, and I suppose the book is well enough written, but I just didn't enjoy it at all. (And I generally like fairy tale retellings; I love the "Once Upon a Time" series and Robin McKinley's "Beauty" is one of my favourite books ever.) This story, however, is a strange mashup of Snow White and the gritty, daily life of post WWII rural Virginia that doesn't really work. Worst of all, it is just plain grim. There is little in the way of redemptive qualities, hope or happiness until it wraps up in a facile way in the final few pages. I wanted to like it more and kept hoping it would get better, but found I was dragging myself through the whole way. C-

  • Kate Forsyth
    2019-05-04 16:20

    Jane Yolen is a wonderful American children’s author known for her interest in fairy tales and folklore. I have read and enjoyed many of her books, in particular The Devil’s Arithmetic and Briar Rose. Snow in Summer is a reworking of the Snow White fairy tale, set in the hillbilly mountains of West Virginia during the Great Depression. The story is both familiar and unfamiliar, as the best fairy tale retellings are. It is not her finest work, but a must-read for anyone interested in the imaginative use of fairy tales.

  • Mulhat
    2019-05-20 14:15

    Snow in Summer by Jane Yollen is one of my favorite book. This book is a about a beautiful girl "Snow" who lives with her father she was about to get a new baby brother but the baby die soon after he's born, taking snows mother with him. Soon after Snows mother died, his dad decided to marry another woman. Unfortunately the woman was a witch she was using magic powers and magic mirrors in order to kill snows dad.

  • Krista
    2019-05-06 11:20

    Overall, a very disappointing retelling of Snow White. I was thinking about not finishing this book at 100 pages in, however, I kept reading thinking it might get better. It didn’t get any better. What I didn’t like:Summer in the Snow likes fairy tales has read the book Snow White but can’t think of any relation between her life and the story. Summer in the Snow is an idiot. Acts like she has no idea what real love is, however, Cousin Nancy who has been like a mother to her, gave her love for years! Summer tells no one that her Stepmomma is abusive. Acts like she deserves the abuse? Weird “church” that has snakes and crazy people never really explained. Lots of things not explained! Father in chair drooling in the corner, no one seems to care about? How is the family making money during the reign of the evil overlord stepmomma? Why is her dead mother an owl?Creepy dried skin cap in a bag?? Yuck I could go on and on... but you get it now. The reason for the one star is clear. I really wanted to love this book.

  • Jamie (ReadsInTrees) Dacyczyn
    2019-04-28 08:59

    Woohoo! A young adult fairy tale retelling that wasn't dripping with irritating tropes and insta-love! So, I quite liked this one. It's a retelling of Snow White, set in post-Depression/WWII West Virginia, definitely an interesting setting for this tale. Although there were some magical elements (I'd categorize this book as medical realism), this gritty retelling was focused more on the relationship between Summer and her stepmama. The part with the seven dwarves almost felt tacked on to the end because it took so long to get there, but it worked; it wasn't the focus of the story.There were a few things that weren't explained well or didn't make entire sense....but that would fit with it being a fairy tale, right?Can't say I've ever read a fairy tale retelling that included a crazy Pentecostal church, but here we are.I think I'll be adding this one to my collection of fairy tales.

  • TheBookSmugglers
    2019-05-08 08:01

    I’ve always wanted to read a Jane Yolen novel (I KNOW) so when I came across Snow in Summer, a retelling of Snow White, I thought it would be a perfect place to start.The story is set in a small town in West Virginia in the 40s and it follows the story of Snow in Summer, a child who is 7 years old when her mother dies. After her death, Summer’s father, Lemuel, is grief-stricken: he barely acknowledges Summer’s existence and spends most of his nights at his wife’s graveside, fading away little by little. Their Cousin Nancy, out of love and devotion for Summer and her father, is the one who brings Summer up – helping as much as she can. Until the one day when Lemuel comes back home accompanied by a beautiful stranger, who is to be his new wife. Both Nancy and Summer know that Lemuel is besotted – magically so – but neither can do much and thus Summer’s life with her stepmother begins. At first, Summer is thankful for the attention she gets, even if that attention comes in increments and followed by orders. But soon it becomes clear that the stepmother is not only consuming Lemuel’s vitality but she also has an evil plan for Summer.Snow in Summer is kind of a book of parts:The first two thirds of the novel are slow paced, developing the story beautifully, but the final third is a fast-paced mess. Summer’s childhood and the first years of her life with her stepmother make up for the best part of the novel. The biggest chunk of the novel is devoted to her relationship with her father (and his lack of fathering) and with Cousin Nancy. Those were beautifully done; I felt Lemuel’s grief for the loss of his mother, as I felt Summer’s grief and frustration at having a living father who simply did not care enough for her. Cousin Nancy was also an interesting character with her unrequited love for Lemuel and her attempt to help Summer as much as she could. When the Stepmother comes into the story and becomes Summer’s guardian there is a shift in the story as Summer is submitted to horrible abuse. I felt the emotional toll was well explored: she is kept apart from Nancy and everything she knows and there is certainly an element of Stockholm Syndrome here as Summer is at first, grateful for any morsel of attention she gets.This is also where an element of magic is introduced: the stepmother is an adept of the “craft” and has a magic speaking mirror; the Stepmother had used her magic to ensnare Lemuel’s and she also hopes to have Summer becoming an adept as well. When she realises that is not going to happen, the events following the stepmother’s attempt to kill Summer catapult the story into its last part. Whereas up to that point we had a story that had been slowly developed, all of a sudden events happen furiously fast: Summer is taken by the hunter, she manages to escape and join these people living in the forest and the story progresses as we all know. There are a few minor differences though especially with regards to the “prince” who is just thrown in there at the last minute to save Summer. The real “romance” though comes only as an epilogue in which Summer just tells us that theirs is One True Love and that’s it.The similarities with the original Snow White story are glaring and the strange thing is how Summer knows about fairytales and even mentions Snow White but it never occurs to her that she is living the same story – not even when she sees the magic mirror. This mixture of awareness and lack of awareness was kind of strange and not quite well explained. The setting is interesting but not really fully incorporated in the novel to a point where I felt this could have been a story set anywhere, any time – the setting never really came alive for me.Although I loved the prose and Summer’s voice, I was kind of disappointed in the story and how it progressed. There was something that just didn’t jibe with me – even though I loved parts of the story, and despite its fast-paced ending, the story proved to be kind of dull, actually. So, all things considered, this first foray into the words of Jane Yolen was not a successful one. But given how her books are so well-praised, I am pretty sure I just picked the wrong one to start with. Oh, well, maybe next time?

  • Lolly's Library
    2019-05-02 15:08

    As Mark Twain was to the birth of American folklore, so Jane Yolen is to the next generation of Americana. Yolen is able to take classic Old World folk tales, clothe them in distinctly American cultures, mores, and histories, and present a story which gives a nod to its European roots while remaining uniquely American.Snow in Summer is no different. At its heart, you will find the traditional Snow White fairy tale: evil stepmother/wicked witch, potions and poisons, magic mirror, the hunter, even the dwarfs who mine for precious minerals and the infamous apple (though this time it takes the form of apple kuchen). But this Snow White is set in a very rural Appalachia community, specifically a small town in West Virginia in the 1940-50's. Add in the folklore rooted in those very mountains and valleys--stories of haints and green magic, the power of rowan berries and garlic, and, most importantly, babies born with a caul--the mysterious sect of snake-handlers and their practice of faith-healing and speaking in tongues, miracle testimony and the belief in their immunity to poisons and venom, as well as those animals who have their own long and storied folktale history such as the snake, the owl, the fox, and the bear, and you've got a completely new perspective on an old story. And a beautifully haunting, lyrical, evocative perspective it is.Snow White is known as Snow in Summer, her name coming from the little white flowers covering the yard. The Snow in Summer plant, Cerastium tomentosumWe see the bulk of her story from her perspective, from the death of her mother, when she's known as Summer (because, as Summer's Cousin Nancy relates to her in a well-told tale: ”Your daddy laughed and said, 'We gonna call her all that? Snow in Summer? Don't you think she's too tiny for such a big name?' 'We gonna call her Summer,' your mama told him. 'It's warm and pretty, just as warm and pretty as she is.'”), to the arrival of Stepmama, who decided Snow was a better name (the changes in Snow in Summer's name are obvious, yet important signals in plot development), to the final, fulfilling conclusion. To add depth to the tale and to the characters, certain chapters are told from either Stepmama's or Cousin Nancy's perspectives, infrequent enough to add a piquant flavor to Snow's tale without becoming a distraction.The novel is an expansion of Yolen's short story, "Snow in Summer," originally published in the anthology Black Heart, Ivory Bones. I'm sure I read that story as I love the anthologies produced by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, all of them involved with fairy tale retellings, but it's been so long ago, I'd forgotten all the details of the short story, making the book a nicely unfamiliar tale for me.See more of my reviews at:

  • Miranda
    2019-04-26 14:08

    Okay first...the cover is amazing. It's what made me decide to read the book in the first place (that and knowledge of Jane Yolen's writing) and know, looking at it after finishing the book...there are so many little pieces from the story tied in. Snow in Summer is a beautiful little girl, but, as often happens to such little girls, tragdey has struck. Her mama, in the process of giving birth to her new baby brother, has died, along with the baby. Summer is sad, obviously, but her sorrow is nothing compared to her father's. Lem was once a joyous man, singing to his wife and daughter, and even to his plants to "make them grow better." But now...he's just a shell. He seems to have forgotten that he even has a daughter most of them time, and it's up to Cousin Nancy to take care of Summer. Still, they get along well enough for some years. And then...Stepmama comes, bringing with her all kinds of evil. Really, it wasn't anything like I expected. (Not that I had that many expectations, but still.) I was surprised. I'm not really sure why, even now. Maybe because of the way Stepmama was evil. From the moment she was introduced, she gave me the creeps. And in the church I was getting seriously scared for Summer! All kinds of horrors go on in places like that. Usually villians in fairy tales aren't creepy, exactly. You know exactly what to expect from them. But anyways, it was a good book. I really enjoyed the ending =)

  • Todd Strader
    2019-05-20 16:06

    “I excused myself because I was only twelve. Because I worried about Papa. Because I wanted a real mama. Because I was, somehow, all alone. But those were only excuses. I acquiesced, plain and simple.No-- I promised myself. If I am truly becoming a woman by this pain, I should act like one.” -- Snow In Summer, Jane YolenSnow in Summer has lost her mother. She has lost her father first to grief and now to a witch. Now “stepmother” bides her time so that when Snow In Summer loses her childhood she can take her very life essence as well.Snow White is re-imagined among the folkways of a small mountain town in rural West Virginia. Cousin Nancy looks after the young Snow In Summer after the loss of her mother keeping the house clean and keeping memories alive, that is, until Summer’s father comes home under the spell of a woman who insists on calling Summer… Snow. The tale is told forward through narration and backwards as key characters remember the events unfolding.As usual, Jane produces well formed, engaging characters and authentically captures life in Appalachia as she spins an old world tale that finds a perfect home in a part of America that hearkens back to a bygone time and finds mystery and magic alive on the slopes of its misty mountains. I happen to live on the edge of these mountains and enjoyed the mention of places I know. I also enjoyed following Summer who I found to be an earnest, honest and wholly good child battling a consuming, manipulative evil.

  • Michelle
    2019-05-01 09:12

    I picked this up from the children's section of the library the other day because I love fairy tale retellings, and the cover is nice. However, it was one of those where the whole way through I kept waiting for it to get better and felt like I'd wasted my time when I was done. It was just too dark for me. The stepmother was creepy--really EVIL and we had to hear too much about it (I think it'd be disturbing for kids). The "___ Remembers" chapters were fine for characters who were still alive at the end, but kind of weird considering the witch is dead by the end (this is Snow White, we all know how it ends so I'm not considering it a spoiler). It was just gloomy for the first 3/4 of the book. I think I would have liked it better had the last 1/4 taken up most of the book. There's also the strange part of Summer knowing the story of Snow White already... Considering all the set up for the story, it would have been nice to have Summer help her father more (instead of just "tell Father he's free"--after all, we read a few times that he was "fighting" the magic, but we couldn't see any evidence of it) and see things more with Nancy and Lem, instead of just the epilogue type last chapter.All in all, I've decided that there are a lot of great books out there and I have limited time, so the next time I feel like I'm wasting my time as I read a book, I should trust my instincts and pick up something else. (Especially in this one--after all, I knew how it would end!).

  • Kara
    2019-05-04 16:20

    A new approach to the Snow White tale sets in mid-20th century West Virginia. On the one hand it is heavily grounded in the reality of the time, showcasing boys who didn’t come back from “some beach in France”, lingering effects of the Great Depression, substance living, dirt roads, sketchy social services, plant lore, folk singing, snake handling, and grief and love. On the other hand, there is some serous Magic with a capital M involving potions, plants, a caul, a magic mirror, and draining people of their lives to restore youth.Talking a step one way or the other, the book could have been either Modern Fantasy or Magical Realism, but this in betweenness made me feel like the story didn’t quite gel. We spend chapters and chapters on the – sadly – very real life issue of parental neglect and child abuse, and then towards the end rush through the use of magic that leads to a climax and then a happily ever after. A good use of a new setting to re-tell the Snow White tale, but turns out just not quite my cup of tea.

  • Lolene
    2019-05-16 11:24

    If you like great retellings of fairy tales, don't miss this one. (The spell-checker hates the word, "retellings." Too bad.)Jane Yolen is a crazy-talented writer. This book is the traditional tale of Snow White with a big takes place in rural Appalachia in the 1940's. If you read my reviews at ALL, you know that I hate writing summaries as much as my challenged students if it's a synopsis you want, click on the book!Yolen's characterizations woven into the unique setting are absolutely masterful. I loved how she handled the wicked stepmother, her killer-man henchman, and the seven dwarves. She even weaves the religious practice of regional snake charmers/worshipers into the story. Fabulous. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because I probably won't read it again...and that's my personal criteria for 5 stars. 4 stars to me means really, really GOOD...worth your time.

  • Amee
    2019-05-17 11:05

    I wish I could give this book one more star. I love Jane Yolen's novel The Devil's Arithmetic, so when I saw this one I had to read it. An author I enjoy, plus a fairy tale retelling. Win-win, right? However, there were aspects that I disliked. First was the foreshadowing at the end of every single chapter. I got it the first time. You can't trust the stepmother, bad things are going to happen, etc. I felt like it was dragged out beyond belief as well. Two-thirds of the novel is set-up. I thought with only 250 pages that things would go quickly, but they don't.I love the way Jane Yolen writes though. It is very poetic and I feel like she chooses every word very carefully so that there is nothing extra or superfluous about her writing.I also loved the last 1/3 of the book. The real fairy tale part of the novel and where all the action happens. It was fast paced and exciting with the requisite happily ever after. Wonderful ending to an achingly slow start.

  • Sissy Lu {Book Savvy Reviews}
    2019-04-26 11:00

    So, it's not that I didn't like the story... because the idea was quite interesting and the writing wasn't terrible. It was that it had a bit too many instances that didn't sit well with me. For instance... there are things that are clearly from "Snow White" and Summer knows this, yet it doesn't make her take pause as she looks at her "evil" stepmother... or the fact there is a talking mirror. A TALKING MIRROR, that doesn't bother you? You grew up in West Virginia, I'm pretty sure that would be strange to you.. especially in said era...The story also seemed to tread water, not really going anywhere until after you hit 200 pages... and then it's over. It focuses too much on the beginning and then everything else is thrown together. Was it a touch creepy? Yeah, I suppose.I did like the idea of it being during the depression, I did like all of the ideas... but in the end I was let down.

  • Melanie
    2019-05-10 12:08

    I really wanted to like this book. It had an interesting perspective and a lot of potential but it just didn't work for me. The beginning was repetitive and dull and could have been summarized in one chapter. By page 45 I almost gave up. I liked the stepmama character but the "magic" could have been fleshed out and explained in more detail. There were a few plot holes that didn't make sense to me and explanations that never panned out. The changes of narrative perspective were somewhat confusing and didn't add enough to the story. I never really understood what the stepmother was hoping would happen nor why she always thought she had the upper hand. After the plodding pacing of the first part of the book, the end felt very rushed and thrown together. Overall, this book just didn't "live" for me.

  • Kristen
    2019-04-30 15:16

    Short & Sweet: It's been a while since I saw a fairy tale retelling in America that is not modern. This one takes place in the early 1900s and Yolen does an amazing job of pulling you into the setting and story. Instead of Summer's father dying, he is under a spell after he marries Stepmama. The view point alternates, showing not only Summer and Stepmama's views, but also Cousin Nancy's at times. The reader gets to delve into the reasons why Stepmama does what she does and it really is quite a creepy tale at times that made me worry for Summer's life.Final Verdict: A great retelling with an interesting setting. Definitely pulls out the creepiness of the tale and a background to the evil Stepmother I hadn't encountered before. As always, Yolen's writing is superb and brings the reader into the story with ease and kept me entranced while reading.

  • Nick
    2019-05-22 09:21

    Other than the few elements of fantasy, it is also a good historical fiction about life in rural West Virginia. The story develops slowly, but that is because the author made it ten times longer than the version of the fairy tale that most of us have read. This allows for more development of the characters, as well as the side plots, ranging from the social life in the community to the controversial church in the hills, based on a real religious movement in the South.I still think that naming a child Snow in Summer is just asking for trouble, but maybe that's just me.The only plot element I didn't care for was the passivity of the father. We never got to see anything from inside his head, only his external sorrow. That passivity made it difficult to understand why he was so unresponsive to his cousin's kindness, although it was easy to see how easily beguiled he was by the witch.

  • Julia
    2019-05-01 10:19

    Snow in Summer is Snow White set in the West Virginia mountains the years during and after World War II. Her father isn’t a king, but a farmer with rich bottom land, who can grow anything until his wife dies, and who over-grieves his wife’s death and falls under the sway of a magic user. Summer, though very young when her mother dies, takes care of her father, even does the farming for him, and then her Stepmother. Summer doesn’t leave her Stepmother, but when she takes her to a snake-handling church and then a hunter she runs. Until she finds six short German jewel miners and marries their tall brother. That happy portion of the book was hurried, and I could have wished it hadn’t been. But I’m just thrilled to be reading another novel of Jane Yolen’s!

  • Marilyn
    2019-05-06 13:59

    I really enjoyed this book---young adult, but would be enjoyed by anyone who likes fairy tales retold. It's Snow White set in a small town in West Virginia. There are all the familiar elements--girl whose mother dies, sad and lonely father, evil stepmother, poisons, potions and a magic mirror, a hunter, seven little men in a forest cottage,etc. But it's all combined in a new, fresh way that makes it magic all over again. Jane Yolen does it again!

  • Nicky Kyle
    2019-05-19 08:21

    Probably the least impressed I've ever been by a Jane Yolen story, honestly. There was certainly potential in the conceit, and the ending was surprisingly enjoyable (although it felt a bit rushed in comparison to how drawn-out the rest was), but the pacing was slow to the point of tedium and the narration was repetitive (and not in a good way). Overall the book felt more like a slog than anything else. I was sadly disappointed. If you're a hardcore Christian who likes fairy-tale retellings and doesn't mind a real slow build you'd probably like this story. As for me, I found it a let-down and a chore.The villain was pretty bland and two-dimensional, too. Surprisingly so; it felt from her introduction that there should have been more to her, but that was potential that was never realized either. In fact, she comes off as kind of an idiot by the end of the story, because for all her sly little machinations in the start she never has the realization that if she doesn't ever tell Summer anything about what she wants from her (to train as an apprentice in the Craft, her form of magic, in exchange for seven years of life) then how is Summer supposed to figure out what this secretive and unforthcoming woman is after? I find it annoying when adult characters get angry at younger characters for not knowing the things that they deliberately refused to tell them and then making mistakes that they probably wouldn't have made had they been in possession of the full facts at hand, but this kind of took the idea to a new and unrealistic extreme. At one point Stepmama expresses her disappointment in Summer's "refusal" to do what she wanted, despite never once asking or inviting or even allowing Summer to do any magic with her; in fact she flat-out forbid Summer from touching her potions or entering the room where she kept her magic mirror, etc, so how Summer should have read her mind or something to figure out what she wanted, I have no idea! "How disappointing that this girl that I forbid from learning magic didn't learn magic when I never offered to teach her any magic but secretly wanted her to agree to learn the magic that I forbid her from learning!" How's that for victim-blaming logic...sheesh!Let me add the caveat that part of the reason I found the narration so tedious and repetitive was because everybody kept harping-on about praying and Christianity and different churches and on and on and on with the prayers and the god and angels and heaven and stuff. Few things will put me off a character faster than having them blathering on about god all the time in their narration, especially when -- like young Summer--they don't actually demonstrate any real understanding of the faith they've been raised to accept without any critical thinking. There's no introspective thoughts about belief systems here; just monotonous praying and thinking about praying and more praying and more thinking about praying. It doesn't have any effect on the story, either; had there been some result from all of this religion, I probably wouldn't have been so annoyed by it, but its inclusion ends up feeling totally random because it never actually culminates in anything. There's a lot of that, actually: things that seem like they should affect the story that don't. Even Cousin Nan herself doesn't seem to have any actual purpose in the story, beyond popping forward at the end (without surprising anyone, since she'd been set-up for that role practically since her first appearance, and had her suitability for that position repeated over and over and over again) for a quick "here papa have a happy ending with a different wife now!" I kept waiting for her to do something, but ultimately all she ends up doing is pestering a mean little policeman who doesn't listen to her and praying, praying, and more praying. Which again, if there was some kind of result from all of this churching...but there isn't. Someone who finds the idea of religion less off-putting than I do probably won't be bothered by it, certainly not to the extent that I was -- but if you don't enjoy loads and loads of shallow Christian faith in your fiction, consider yourself warned!When Summer finally, finally was forced into action and met the brothers and the bear and started settling into life with them, the story became enjoyable and I wish there had been more of that. Her getting to know them was fun...but all we really get to know are their names, and one or two minor details (who sells the gems? who likes to garden?) about some of them, when they were by far the most interesting characters -- or at least potentially interesting -- in the whole story. Given how slow the pace of the rest was, I would have expected things to dwell a bit longer on the cool bits with these interesting characters at the end, but instead it's over in barely an eyeblink after Summer's arrival.The book just feels unbalanced, with far too much drawing-out of the first one hundred and eighty pages and far too little time spent with the actually-interesting-brothers-and-bear in the last sixty. Maybe if it had been more of a 2/3 split instead of a 3/4...but as it stands, the payoff wasn't worth the rest of the story. I expect more from a Jane Yolen book, to be honest; this one just was not to my taste.