Author: Anne Ursu
Source: Local Library
Summary: Hazel and Jack are the best of friends, but she feels things changing as they work their way through fifth grade. When he suddenly shuts her out, she knows something is wrong, and when he disappears completely, she's determined to find him for the sake of their old friendship. Armed only with what she's learned from books, Hazel will have to survive a strange new world and all its dangers if she wants her friend back.
First Impressions: Eeeeeee this booooook. I want to hug it.
Later On: This is billed as a retelling of The Snow Queen - which it is - but that's not the only way that books and stories impact it. Hazel is a reader. She buries herself in books like a lot of the kids (and former kids) reading this very book. She refers to characters as if they are old friends and tries to draw on the things she's learned from their stories. Sometimes it's helpful. Sometimes it's not.
Of course, the best fairy tale retellings aren't just a rote recitation of the story. Ursu uses the idea of the Snow Queen's icy grip to explore ideas of changing friendship, depression, and growing up.
This is a quietly beautiful book that actually becomes more complex as Hazel moves into the fantasy world. With no pat answers (and barely a hint of prepubescent romance, thank you), this book curled right up in my heart and stayed there.