Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

I've had this book forever and just finally got around to reading it. The book begins,
"Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things. They burn your tongue the moment they're spoken and you can never take them back. They bruise and bake and come back to haunt you. I've made far too many wishes in my lifetime, the first when I was eight years old."

The story is told in this first-person voice throughout the book, and we never learn the narrator's name. In fact, when I got ready to post this, I had to go back and make sure that I hadn't just missed her name. I know this was a conscious decision by the author. It fits very well with the loneliness and guilt that the narrator carries. She doesn't feel that she deserves to be known because of that wish that she believes changed the course of her life.

She spends her life avoiding meaningful relationships with people. The only person she believes has ever truly loved her despite her flaws is her grandmother who cares for her and her brother after her mother dies. However, when her grandmother dies many years later, the young woman is thrown into a tail spin all over again. Though they've never really been all that close, her brother convinces her to move to Florida where he and his wife are college professors. She continues to drift through her life until the unthinkable happens. She makes another wish that comes true. She is hit by lightning, which begins another strange chapter in her life. Through a lightning survivor study group at the college, she learns about Lazarus Jones, a man who is said to have died for forty minutes after his lightning strike. Having always been fascinated by death, she seeks him out hoping to learn something from him.

This a short, powerful book. Like most of Hoffman's books, the reader has to be able to suspend disbelief. However, she makes it quite easy to do so. Though her premise is strange, I didn't really question anything about it. The book is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time and one I highly recommend.







12 comments:

Nymeth said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much, Lisa. I also couldn't have loved this book more :)

Lisa said...

nymeth, wasn't it great? I felt so sorry for her blaming herself the way she did. I kept wondering, as she got older if she didn't realize it wasn't her fault. But, I guess when you are traumatized at such a young age, it stays with you.

Literary Feline said...

I am really looking forward to reading this one. I've only had the chance to read two of Alice Hoffman's books so far, but she's already earned a spot on my favorites' list. Thanks for the great review!

Lisa said...

literary feline, I haven't read very many of her books either, but I'm definitely on the look out for more now. I'm pretty sure I have a couple of hers that I need to pull out of the stacks.

Iliana said...

Oh that's a wonderful quote from the book. Unfortunately I've only read one Hoffman and didn't like it much but I'm very intrigued by this book and some others I've recently heard about so I will be checking another of her books out one of these days!

Lisa said...

iliana, which book did you read? I don't have a great deal of experience with her either. I'm wondering what I should read next.

Andi said...

I liked this one, too. I haven't seen that particular cover. Pretty! I remember writing a few quotes from this book down in my journal, and now that you've reminded me, I'll have to go revisit those.

Lisa said...

andi, this is a very quotable book.

BooksPlease said...

I have just one Hoffman book - Practical Magic. I haven't read it yet so I can't recommend it. I hope it's as good as The Ice Queen sounds.

Lisa said...

margaret, I haven't read that one either, but it's probably her best known work.

ravenousreader said...

I always enjoy Hoffman's books, and this one sounds like another good one. Thanks for the good review :)

Lisa said...

ravenous reader, I really did enjoy this one. I find myself still thinking about the characters.