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August 8, 2009

A Perfect Snow

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A Perfect Snow

Author: Nora Martin

Page Length: 144  

Reading Level: 4

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: When Ben and his family move to a small town in Montana, Ben is angry.  He is upset that his father has lost his job, and he is angry that he lives in a mobile home in a rundown trailer park.  When his younger brother is beat up by Jason Johnson, Ben becomes angrier.  After attending some neighborhood meetings at the local mechanic’s shop, Ben becomes involved with Chuck and Travis.  Their extra-curricular activities involve spraying graffiti on a synagogue and throwing a rock through a window of a young boy’s home.  At first, this gives Ben a feeling of power.  However, when his younger brother, David, becomes involved in the hate crimes Ben realizes that he is guilty of being racially prejudice.

Ben avoids confrontation with Chuck, Travis, and his brother by busying himself with his girlfriend, Eden.  He develops a friendship with Jason Johnson while they fulfill community service they were assigned for fighting at school.   However, as the hate crimes become more serious, Ben is forced to go to the police and admit his prior involvement with the group.  He finds himself estranged not only from his family, but from Eden.  Ironically, Jason, his first enemy in the small town, becomes his only ally.

REVIEW: This is a book which captures the reader’s attention from the first page.  The author develops the characters of Ben, as the protagonist, and David, his younger brother, as the antagonist.  The book demonstrates how people with different attitudes can be easily influenced into developing social ideas that are prejudiced and judgmental.  It also shows that parents are often blind to events that are happening in their children’s lives.

This is a good book for young adults to read to see how easily racial opinions and prejudices can be formed.  It could be used in conjunction with the reading of To Kill a Mockingbird, as a comparison of our modern day prejudices.

 AREAS FOR TEACHING: Theme, Point of View, Characters, and Cause and Effect

TOUCHY AREAS: White supremacy is the major theme of the book.  Hate crimes are committed, but the violence is not written in too graphic of terms to be offensives to the young adult reader.

RELATED BOOKS: The Bully in the Book and in the Classroom, The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Gran Torino (2008), Gone Baby Gone (2007), Remember the Titans (2000)


 REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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