The Snowman’s Children
A haunting debut novel that is both a riveting page-turner and a penetrating portrait of the loneliness that necessitates friendships but can also devour them.
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The Snowman’s Children is a moving, psychologically intense first novel that chronicles a harrowing childhood incident and its lingering aftermath. In the mid-1970s, as a serial killer called the Snowman stalks the streets of suburban Detroit and the racial tension that had ripped the city in half a decade earlier continues to underscore every aspect of daily life, Mattie and Spencer, two exceptionally bright eleven year-old boys wage an increasingly desperate, misguided campaign to save their friend Theresa, a brilliant, cryptic, troubled young girl, from descending into terrifying mental illness. The final, grand act of that campaign has shattering effects on many lives, drives Mattie’s family from their home, and ultimately lures him, seventeen years later, back to Detroit to seek out his lost friends and make one last attempt to set things right.
Though the ghostly presence of the Snowman charges these pages with angst and dread, The Snowman’s Children is less about the killer or his victims than the fragile nature of childhood, the devastating fragmentation of Detroit, and the universal longing for closure, understanding, forgiveness, and the love of one’s friends.
Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird in its vivid vision of childhood remembered, and infused with eerily beautiful imagery and compulsive suspense that bring to mind Smilla’s Sense of Snow, The Snowman’s Children marks the arrival of an important new voice in American literature.
Reviews and Comments on The Snowman’s Children:
“A brilliantly-rendered portrait of the bond between endangered children, this compelling and evocative novel tells the truth, beautifully.”
“This technically perfect, beautifully rendered childhood is what makes The Snowman’s Children so powerful. Mattie’s parents . . . are perfectly believable, and his popular younger brother could step off the page and right into our living rooms. This is ‘normal’ American suburban life seen without cliches, a series of houses on a series of streets, where a series of parents try—or don’t try—to make life safe for their kids.”
—Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“Not since ‘Stand by Me’ has there been such a moving and penetrating portrait of the importance–and dangers–of friendships. [The Snowman’s Children] will not only grip your heart, but melt it as well.”
—The Literary Guild (New & Noteworthy selection)
“Hirshberg deftly uses hints of magic realism to depict the wintry landscape of Mattie’s remembered childhood. Everything from children’s names. . . to the games they play. . . lends the book a sinister air of unreality. . . The novel may remind readers of Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides, another eerie, nostalgic coming-of-age tale set in the 1970s Detroit suburbs.”
“Hirshberg holds the reader’s interest from the first page to the last. He’s as comfortable with loose ends as he is with life’s realities. . . [The Snowman’s Children] holds the tension of a thriller combined with an insight into character more often found in literary than in genre fiction.”
—Robin Vidimos, Denver Post
“With this remarkable debut, Glen Hirshberg pinpoints that single fixed moment of youth in which lies the DNA of a life, and how finally we’re all the ghosts of our own childhood.”
—Steve Erickson, author of The Sea Comes in at Midnight
“This promising debut novel is weirdly tender. Even as a serial killer stalks his characters, Glen Hirshberg remembers that in-between age and his long-lost city with great depth and affection.”
—Stewart O’Nan, author of A Prayer for The Dying
“The Snowman’s Children ends with nothing and nobody unshattered, least of all the reader. Its world spins with a sad inexorability that is at once achingly familiar and disturbingly alien. The book is wise, intelligent, thick with arresting imagery, and infused with an accelerating gush of dread.”
—Bryan Di Salvatore, author of A Clever Base-Ballist: The Life and Times of John Montgomery Ward
“Glen Hirshberg, already an expert teller of ghost stories, has written a dark, haunting first novel that is a poignant and disquieting coming of age story.”
—Ellen Datlow, Co-editor of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror
“Glen Hirshberg has written a dense, intricate, and eerily beautiful novel about the perils of childhood, families, friendships, and real monsters. You fall under the spell of this book, as if falling backwards into a bank of soft, deep snow.”
—Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen
“A chilling debut…Haunting and sharply rendered…”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“First novelist Hirshberg … has a real gift for capturing the emotional power of childhood friendships.”