Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Season of Water and Ice-Donald Lystra

Season of Water and Ice
Donald Lystra
Switchgrass Books, Oct 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780875806280

In 1957, fourteen years old Danny is stunned when his parents split up. His mom remains in Chicago while he accompanies his dad to Northern Michigan to sell power tools. Neither adult takes the time to explain to Danny why the separation occurred and why his mom abandoned him to his dad. He knows his dad angrily quit his job at a Grand Rapids automobile plant, which in turn angered his mom.

Eighteen year old Amber is an unwed pregnant wannabe artist. She is lonely, frightened, and unhappy as she is unsure of what to do with what she is carrying. Ostracized by the locals, who are led by her horrified parents, she is a pariah shunned by all. Even the father of her child left her. When the two outsider teen misfits meet, they naturally find common ground with being abandoned by loved ones; they begin to help one another adjust to their respective situations, but that too is unacceptable as her former boyfriend returns while Danny’s mother remains silent.

Told in the first person by Danny, this is a great character driven historical tale in which time and place is always in the background via subtle references like cars, songs, etc. The key cast members mostly provide profound insight into either Danny or Amber; who in turn are fully developed and anchor the plot. Although doubtful circumstances occasionally drive the story line at times, this coming of age tale stars a young teen growing up rather quickly to the frailty of dysfunctional human relationships. Readers will relish this fine not so happy days in Michigan.

Harriet Klausner

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