YRCA 2013 Review: Winter Shadows

Let me start by saying that, Winter Shadows by Margaret Buffie was not chosen as the December book for the Teen Book Club that I run because it’s a Christmas story. That was just a happy coincidence that made me laugh when I realized it.

Winter Shadows is the story of two young women living in the same house in a small town outside of Winnipeg and dealing with similar issues but living in different time periods. Cass is a modern high school student who lost her mother to illness within the last year and is now dealing badly with having a new stepfamily invading her home. Her new stepmother is completely renovating and redecorating the house that Cass’s mother inherited to remove all her completely from their lives and Cass is upset with her father for letting Jean do this.

Beatrice is a few years older than Cass, lost her mother as a child and is now dealing with a new stepmother who seems to hate her. When her story begins, the young woman has just come home early from a school in Upper Canada to take care of her father who had an accident and discovers that he has remarried while she was away. Her new stepmother is unreasonably nasty to her and has allowed Bea’s Cree grandmother to get bed sores.

Cass’s story is told in the normal way and Beatrice’s is told through a journal and they alternate chapters. Early on, Cass finds Beatrice’s star brooch in the fireplace in her room and they start seeing scenes from each other’s lives. Cass is given a ghostly version of Beatrice’s journal to read and eventually they start to communicate with each other a little and give each other support. There is even a romance on each side, although it is way more important for Beatrice than Cass.

It took me a bit to get into this book but once I did I became more and more involved in the girls’ lives and needed to know what would happen to them. I also loved the historical and cultural details of Beatrice’s story. She lives in a village of  English, Scottish, and Metis (mixed aboriginal and European blood) people just before the Red River Rebellion and the author shows the conflicting attitudes of the different groups and Beatrice internal conflict as she worries about sacrificing her Cree heritage for European culture in order to live a better life. Anyway, I came to love this book and was totally satisfied with how it concluded.

Will this book win the Senior Division? That would be nice but I’m thinking one of the Dystopian books will win.

What I’m reading right now: Hogfather audiobook by Terry Pratchett, The Diviners by Libba Bray


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