Snow Angels by Stewart O'Nan was originally published in 1994. My hardcover copy has 305 pages. This first novel by O'Nan looks at a slice of time in fifteen year old Artie's life when his parents marriage disintegrated. At the same time it follows the story of Annie, Artie's former babysitter, and her failed marriage and murder. With haunting and true to life characterizations, O'Nan seamlessly weaves the two stories together. Rating: 4.5
Synopsis from cover:
"Western Pennsylvania, 1974. On a snowy winter afternoon, the winter of his parents' breakup, Arthur Parkinson's high school band practice is interrupted by the sound of gunshots. Too close for deer hunting, it is the sound of the murder of Annie Marchand. Once Arthur's babysitter, and the object of his childhood admiration, Annie is a young woman for whom life didn't turn out quite right, who could find no one to blame, and who could not keep herself, or her loved ones, from harm.With exquisite feeling and perfect pitch, Snow Angels weaves together two haunting stories: Arthur's account of how his family fell apart and everything went wrong the year he turned fifteen, and the shifting-focus story of Annie Marchand and the broken life she cannot seem to reassemble - a story that will draw Arthur into its deepening eddy as it nears an inevitable conclusion.At once deeply moving and darkly funny, Snow Angels is a virtuoso performance, an extraordinary first novel from a unique and masterful talent."
"I was in the band the fall my father left, in the second row of trombones, in the middle because I was a freshman." first sentence.
"Beside me Warren Hardesty muttered something - a joke, a rejoinder - and then we heard what I immediately identified....as gunshots. A clump of them. They crackled like fireworks, echoed over the bare trees on the other side of the highway. They were close. The band turned to them in unison, something Mr. Chervenick could never get us to do." pg. 3
"What we had heard was someone being murdered, someone most of us knew, if dimly. Her name was Annie Marchand, and I knew her first - years before this - merely as Annie the babysitter." pg. 4
"My mother and I never talked about what happened.... I now see that she (and myself, though I did not acknowledge it at the time) was going through her own slow tragedy and needed her grief for both herself and me." pg. 10
"I know that once we touch down I will not be able to think clearly, that every remembered Pizza Hut and body shop, every stretch of road I know intimately, will stun me like love." pg. 16
"Looking down at the farms and fields, the two schools separated by the interstate, the black bean of Marsden's Pond, I think that....if I concentrate on the details I will be able to make sense of the whole, that I will finally understand everything that happened back then, when I know that I can't." pg. 16
"My mother insists that the snow never left that winter. According to her, the first flurries struck in mid-November and we didn't see grass again until spring." pg. 107