The Way Past Winter

Chronicle. Oct. 2020. 284p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452181554.
Gr 4-6–Imagine a world where winter hasn’t ended for five long years, and “arrived so sudden and sharp it stuck birds to branches.” That’s the world Mila lives in. She can remember spring, but it’s a distant memory—like the memory of her mother, who died when her sister was born, and the memory of her father, who left the house five years ago and never returned. Now it’s just Mila and her siblings, older sister Sanna, older brother Oskar, and young Pipa trying to survive the cold, dark days. When a strange man and a group of boys appear one night, Mila is instantly wary. But Oskar gives the group permission to camp near the house. When the girls awaken in the morning they find the group has vanished without a trace, and Oskar with them. Sanna believes Oskar left of his own will and wanted to be rid of them, but Mila is certain he was taken and that it is up to her to find him. Hargrave’s lush language and imagery completely immerses readers in a Nordic-inspired world where legend mingles with reality. The Orekson siblings, all depicted as white, embody the steadfastness of the forest around them in a story of love, determination, and conservation.
VERDICT This rich title begs to be read while wrapped in a warm blanket, sipping a cup of hot chocolate. Recommended.

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