The Edge of Winter
By Luanne Rice
Bantam Books (c) 2007
For my family, the third week in July is Lake Week. Every year I look forward to this seven-day hiatus from my real life; a week of beach, bonding with family, and of course, books. On the day before we left, I searched through my TBR pile for the perfect beach read, thinking something sunny and glamorous and oh so romantic would be just the thing. I don’t know what made me grab Luanne Rice’s The Edge of Winter. Set in a small Rhode Island community in late February, the book hardly seemed to fit the bill. But after skimming the first two pages I found myself at the point of no return, and so I packed the book into my beach bag, along with my sunglasses and my jumbo-sized coffee cup. I’m so glad I did. Filled with complex relationships, The Edge of Winter is a heartwarming story of hope, redemption, and second chances.
For fifteen-year-old Mickey Halloran, it has been a winter of changes as she and her mother, Neve, rebuild their lives in the wake of a painful divorce from the father who seems to have forgotten her. As if being abandoned by her father wasn’t bad enough, Mickey and her best friend, Jenna, seem to be growing apart. As they brave the elements and ride to a secluded cove in a state park one frozen February morning in the hope of spotting a rare snowy owl, Mickey senses their childhood love of bird watching is something Jenna might be outgrowing. Leaving the park, Mickey is injured when her bicycle skids on a patch of ice. She is aided by Shane West, a reclusive surfer boy she knows from school, and park ranger, Tim O’Casey. When Neve shows up at the emergency room, Mickey learns that a warrant has been issued for her father’s arrest for nonpayment of child support. Mickey struggles to work through her feelings of betrayal. When it seems things can’t get much worse, her beloved snowy owl is injured and Neve, Tim, Shane and Mickey, along with Tim’s elderly father, Joe, WWII veteran and bird rehab specialist, must all pull together to save the owl. Thus begins an emotional journey that explores the relationships between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, best friends, and lovers of all ages.
Though painted on the canvas of a stark winter beach, the setting is utterly beautiful, sprinkled with wildlife, glittering waves, and the first hints of spring. The characters are well drawn and likeable, and the plot is multilayered and symbolic. The owl’s damaged wing seems to represent the faltering relationship between Tim and Joe, while a mysterious WWII U-boat that lies beneath the cold, still water represents the deep secrets of the past. The author skillfully weaves all of the story elements together to an ending that is both satisfying and memorable.
I found The Edge of Winter to be a most heartwarming and compelling read, and I’m anxious to check out many more titles by this talented author.