Snowflake, AZ

Norton. Sept. 2019. 320p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781324004417.
Gr 8 Up–Ash arrives in the small town of Snowflake, AZ in pursuit of her stepbrother Bly. She is immediately befriended by a middle aged woman named Mona. Besides her stepbrother, Ash finds an entire town of sick people living in hovels lined with tin foil. Bly and Mona explain that everyone in Snowflake has Multiple Chemical Syndrome (MCS), which is also described as Environmental Illness (EI). This illness has no known cure, and it is caused by multiple societal issues, from the chemicals that are placed on crops to the electricity running through the city. As Ash spends time in Snowflake, she also becomes sick and decides to stay with Bly and Mona. Year after year Ash sees doctors in a neighboring town only to be told she is not sick, MCS does not exist, and the illness is all in her head. Using Ash as his conduit, the author makes his point. What does it matter whether illness is imagined or real? Ash’s journey from outsider to inner circle gives readers a unique perspective. The “normies” think the people of Snowflake are crazy, but there truly seems to be something wrong with them. The readers experience this dichotomy with Ash. The question about physical versus mental illness is not answered, leaving readers to come up with their own conclusions. An unexpected twist leaves readers asking if this story is realistic or science fiction.
VERDICT This story will appeal to both realistic fiction and sci-fi readers. Due to themes of drug abuse, suicide, and depression, this book is recommended for libraries that cater to mature readers.

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