Book Review: Frozen by Mary Casanova

  • Review: Frozen
  • Series: —
  • Author: Mary Casanova
  • No of Pages: 264
  • Expected Publication: September 1, 2012
  • Arc Received for review by University of Minnesota Press

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Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn’t said a word in eleven years-ever since the day she was found lying in a snowbank during a howling storm. Like her voice, her memories of her mother and what happened that night were frozen.

Set during the roaring 1920s in the beautiful, wild area on Rainy Lake where Minnesota meets Canada, Frozen tells the remarkable story of Sadie Rose, whose mother died under strange circumstances the same night that Sadie Rose was found, unable to speak, in a snowbank. Sadie Rose doesn’t know her last name and has only fleeting memories of her mother-and the conflicting knowledge that her mother had worked in a brothel. Taken in as a foster child by a corrupt senator, Sadie Rose spends every summer along the shores of Rainy Lake, where her silence is both a prison and a sanctuary.

One day, Sadie Rose stumbles on a half dozen faded, scandalous photographs-pictures, she realizes, of her mother. They release a flood of puzzling memories, and these wisps of the past send her at last into the heart of her own life’s great mystery: who was her mother, and how did she die? Why did her mother work in a brothel-did she have a choice? What really happened that night when a five-year-old girl was found shivering in a snowbank, her voice and identity abruptly shattered?

Sadie Rose’s search for her personal truth is laid against a swirling historical drama-a time of prohibition and women winning the right to vote, political corruption, and a fevered fight over the area’s wilderness between a charismatic, unyielding, powerful industrialist and a quiet man battling to save the wide, wild forests and waters of northernmost Minnesota. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the haves and the have-nots, to the power of family and memory, and to the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way-but is utterly determined to find it again. — Netgalley

What’s happening:

Sadie Rose sits at her piano playing, her fingers doing an excellent job while her mind betrays her. She has just uncovered pictures of the sort that no one should leave around, much less have at all. But there is something about these pictures that will not leave her alone. It’s not the scandalous poses or attire, but the woman herself that starts an unraveling in Sadie’s mind that will not stop. Sadie soon realizes that the lady is her mother.

As she searches her mind for anything, something extraordinary happens, for eleven years Sadie has not been able to say a word, but as she learns more about her mother’s and her own past she is opening flood gates not only to emotions but also to her locked up speech. She is delighted to be able to talk at first, until the mystery surrounding her mother’s death and why she was a prostitute in the first place, starts to emerge. Silently she pushes on willing herself to be strong enough to stand up to anything, and anyone while she searches for the truth. How was her mother found dead and drunk outside in the snow, and how did Sadie get there also?

With political intrigue abounding she does not know who to really trust and she has no one she can turn to but herself.

From her cave in the snow, she waited for the wind to stop. In her muted shelter, she felt contained. Safe. But she knew she couldn’t stay long. She had to find her mama. She lifted her head for a quick look around. The jail building and meeting hall blended in with the white and whirling wind. And that’s when she saw her mama, sleeping face down on the snow-covered side walk, the drift covering her bare legs like a warm blanket. Move, the girl told herself. You must get to Mama! But she couldn’t move her fingers or toes, her arms or legs. Her whole body was immovable as stone. — Frozen

My thoughts:

Sadie Rose is just sixteen and is learning very fast that she has been sheltered from the outside girl, but even so she is strong, has her own mind in a time when women were not supposed to. She is a lovable character and from the beginning you are left wondering exactly what is going to happen to her. The entire time I read this book I wanted only the best for her, protection from so many who seemed to hurt her and from so many that were hiding their true agendas! But Sadie keeps her wits about her and is remarkably outspoken for the times which is lovely! The few friends she finds are true friends and the little bit of family that she has she realizes are never to be replaced.

My favorite characters are the servants. Aasta is absolutely wonderful to Sadie and she gives great advice like the quote below after Sadie fails a math test.

Life rewards cat who catches mice, not those that count them.

Little tid bits like that from her and her husband make them so fabulous. I wanted to write them all down for myself as well as for Sadie! And then there are the things that Sadie knows even as a sixteen year old that nobody should and if my heart was not yet melted to her, it would be.

Sometimes life seemed more about starting again, no matter how hard, no matter how deep the wounds.

Sadie just simply shows that she knows things beyond her years and she has struggled no matter how soft her life looks. But she also realizes that even when you think your life is horrible, someone out there has it worse than you do! Fabulous thinking!

Fabulous book! My first from Mary Casanova but it will definitely not be my last.

What’s your favorite YA this week?

You may also enjoy:

Book Review: After Dark by Emi Gayle

Book Review: Alibi

Book Review: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto


  1. I’ve read a few of Casanova’s middle grade books and I remember liking them when I was in elementary school. I though Frozen was really unique and easy to follow along with.

    1. Completely agree! Easy to read but still fun enough to continue reading 😀 Nice change of pace to what I normally read also.

  2. […] Frozen by Mary Cassanova (Review) […]

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