Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin

May 26, 2011
From Haiti to Hurt
Karina is a nobody in her school. Known for her “fainting spells” as she ends seventh grade with C’s and D’s on her report card. She’s an immigrant from Haiti with several siblings and relatives running throughout her house. To add to her worries, her stepfather continually abuses her and her siblings. To uncomfortable to call him daddy, she refers to him as “the Daddy”. As Felin starts this page turning novel, Karina is a murderer, her first words to the reader: “The best way to avoid being picked on by high school bullies is to kill someone. Anyone will do.”

You might’ve found that line chilling, so did I. These were the first lines I read before Karina admits to killing the Daddy. These were the first lines of M. Sindy Felin’s debut novel Touching Snow. Her first novel was very remarkable; it was attention capturing from start to finish and very nicely written. Felin also did have some experience living in an immgigrant household, which proabably helped her shape Karina’s home life. Karina’s home was one of the most important places of Touching Snow, which Felin set up very well.

Felin starts Touching Snow with Karina stating that she killed the daddy. Then, Karina begins to tell the story of how she ended up killing him. One big Flashback.

Life was incredibly hard for Karina and her 6 siblings. “Have you ever hear Enid call me the fainting queen?” on top of getting bullied, she most likely has epilipsy. However her Mom feels as if Karina was fakin it everytime. When Karina trys to be friends with one of her classmates, she ends up having another seizure. Condeming her to a loser for life. “Sometimes when I get real upset and nervous, I try to pretend I’m someplace else”, Karina tells the reader, “then boom! -suddenly I’m on the floor wigging out.”

Later that day Karina arrives home to eat some dinner, “Ma and the Daddy’s number one rule on food was that we had to eat every bit that she cooked”. But, her mom cooked enough for 15 minutes. Her siblings and her must mush up the food and throw it down the toilet after they eat as much as they can, so they won’t get a beating. This stratedgy was extremely cleaver. Until one of them forgets to flush the toilet, and the Daddy sees it.

Touching Snow goes through the period of life after Enid, gets fatally beaten after the daddy sees the toilet filled with leftovers. Being the oldest she is held responsible and I beaten until she can barely breath. Karina explains Enid by saying “I could see blood on her stomach, seeping out from patches of skin that looked like they had been burned”.

What Karina can’t seem to put together is whether to tell the truth to the social worker or not. “Ma wanted me to lie to him” is the message she gets, that if the Daddy goes to jail, which will pay bills? But she knows it isn’t right, she is a Christian girl and lying is a sin. However her Uncle Jude, the Daddy’s brother, is telling her other messages. “’You have to tell the Judge what happened’” he tells her. Her own sister Delta tried to persuade Karina to be honest. But Karina ends up following her Mother’s lead. Even though in her gut, she knows it was wrong.

The aftermath of Enid and the trials is interesting and captivates the reader. Trying to escape from the Daddy when he is freed, Karina and her siblings attend a Community Center. There, Karina gets close to a girl named Rachael and realizes that the Daddy isn’t taking his Anger Management classes. As school starts up again, all the problems come back, bullying, the Daddy.

The whole entire plot of Touching Snow was genius. I loved how Felin wove common issues into one book. Karina had epilepsy, bullying, went through immigration, and abuse woven into her character that drove the plot. All these issues left me as a reader stunned and filled with sympathy. At the same time I wanted to see what would happen next. I recommend this to middle school teens and freshman that are aware of these issues. Hoping that they can relate to something.

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