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Snow Angels

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  1,258 ratings  ·  193 reviews
Arthur Parkinson is fourteen during the dreary winter of 1974, experiencing the confusing pangs of adolescence and the pain of his parents’ divorce. His world is shattered further by the sudden and violent death of Annie Marchand, his beloved former baby-sitter. Narrated by the adult Arthur, who continues to be haunted by memories, the story of a young man’s unraveling fam
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Audio CD, 5 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,153)
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Matt
This is the second novel I've read by Stewart O'Nan, after Last Night at the Lobster. While I enjoyed Lobster," it really is a trifle compared to Snow Angels, which is an immensely quiet, powerful book. Essentially, it tells the story of two relationships, both disintegrating, set against the backdrop of rural Pennsylvania in the 70's (my onetime hometown of Bloomington, MN makes an appearance, as does that pansy Fran Tarkenton, getting chased down by the Steelers D).

In it's way, Snow Angels re...more
Mike
Mar 16, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: Jeffrey Keeten, Goodreads friend and pal
Snow Angels, Stewart O'Nan's novel of family life

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

It is 1974 in Butler, Pennsylvania. Arthur is fourteen. His older sister, Astrid is in military service, flying high over Russia, photographing bits and pieces of a very cold country in a very cold war. But the real war is back in Butler, on the home front.

Arthur's mother and father are splitting up. His mother explains to him that she loved...more
Kelly
After reading Last Night at the Lobster, I became a fan of Stewart O'Nan and knew that I would be reading more from him. Snow Angels is the first novel O'Nan wrote, and my second read from this author. The story is narrated by Arthur Parkinson, who was 14 years old during the winter of 1974 and living in the small town of Butler, Pennsylvania. This is the winter that his parents separate and his family falls apart. He and his mom move into a run-down little apartment, his dad is dating someone n...more
Barbara
Arthur Parkinson was 14 when his former, beloved babysitter, Annie, was murdered. This we discover at the outset of this book. The story is narrated throughout by the adult Arthur and some of the other prime characters. It focuses on the period surrounding this slaying and also the traumatic divorce of the young Artie.

O'Nan proficiently conveyed the emotional impact that each person was experiencing. His handling of the actions and behavior of this adolescent boy was particularly vivid and astu...more
Melissa
My first impression of this book was that it was meant for 6th graders. The font size used was huge and made it appear as if it had 10 words per page.

Once I started reading it, I realized I wasn't too far off. While the subject matter is too much of a downer for a nine year old, the way the story was written would have made them feel right at home. The sentences were choppy and had no weight to them.

There were so many missed opportunities that could have made this book a knockout, but were simpl...more
Tripp
A good book to read if you want to see how elastic point-of-view can become in the hands of a skillful writer. O'Nan easily moves from the rotating third-person--often distant to the point of omniscience--present tense viewpoint of one storyline, that of the multiple tragedies that befall Glenn and Annie Marchand, to the first-person, past tense account of 14-year-old Arthur Parkinson, narrating at a remove of some decades the more ordinary tragedy of his parents' unraveling marriage after 23 ye...more
Brian
Quick 10 minute review: O'Nan is always able to write with a certain endearing realistic aesthetic that allows the reader to relate to some aspect or character in every one of his novels. In his debut, Snow Angels, he basically examines the 3 different stages of a failed relationship. The story is told through the eyes of Arthur Parkinson and juxtaposes between his life: falling in love for the first time, getting high with his best friend, and dealing with his parents' recent separation, to the...more
El
What Staggerford could not do for me, Snow Angels could. Instead of the make-believe Staggerford, Minnesota, O'Nan's first novel takes place north of Pittsburgh in the very real Butler, Pennsylvania, complete with Steelers fans and arguments about the correct way to pronounce "milk". Taking place in the seventies, it's another story of small-town secrets, about how lives are connected in sometimes very subtle ways, and about how everyone feels it when something happens extraordinary.

The story is...more
Peter
I was really impressed with what I saw and heard from Stewart O'Nan this past week at the Eckerd College Writers Conference. Andre Dubus III called him the best novelist in the world and while I'm sure he was only half serious, I wanted to see for myself.

Snow Angels is O'Nan's first novel. Publishing in 1994, it tells the story of a high school freshman whose parents are going through a divorce and of a tragedy that occurs in the their community that same year. O'Nan wrote "This Chilly Little Bo...more
Bridget
Jan 19, 2009 Bridget rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bridget by: Julie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diana Lyn
I don't think I got the whole point of the book.

As a teaser, the back of the book said that Arthur will soon find out that the death of his former babysitter links as to why his parents divorced or why their family was torn apart. I've read it and I didn't get it. I didn't get why Annie's death would've answered some of Arthur's questions.

But if you really try and manually knot everything up, instead of just figuring out that that was how it was knotted the whole time, I'd guess that somehow, An...more
Judith
This is a sad story of an abused wife and mother, told in part, from the interesting perspective of an adult male who was only loosely connected to the main character. (she was his babysitter when he was younger and he had a crush on her.) Once you start the book you can't put it down and you will probably finish it as I did in one sitting (good airplane book). I liked the author's style. I wish i could be more enthusiastic, as i did like the author a lot, but the story is too sad.
Dara S.
I really enjoyed O' Nan's non-fiction so I was excited to read this. If you are looking for a book that will make you feel warm and fuzzy, has a moral or is inspiring this is not it.
This book was dark and depressing. Nothing turned out well for any of the characters.
After I finished it, I was like what was the point of that? I felt it kind of left you up in the air and nothing was resolved. O'Nan writes well, just not a very uplifting story.
George
PAINFULLY BORING.

“Give a hoot. Don’t pollute.”—Woodsy Owl

‘Snow Angels,’ by Stewart O’Nan is an extremely dull, marginally disgusting. ‘slice-of-life’ tale about an excruciatingly uninteresting group of people—none of whom I could ever care to know for more than five minutes.

Recommendation: Don’t waste your time.

“…I caught a spicy whiff of her herbal deodorant.”

Overdrive MP3 Audiobook, on loan from http://overdrive.colapublib.org
Sorayya Khan
This book is stunning, just as the NPR reviewer the other day suggested. It is a story of domestic life gone wrong, tangled together with the death of a little girl and the murder of two adults. The writing is so simple and beautiful, unexpectedly rendering the tragedy of the story in multiple shades of sorrow. The voice is powerful and utterly believable.
Mark
I don't know what to feel with this book. This is the first novel I've read from this author. I don't know if it is just the writing style of the author or is it just me not being able to grasp the story. -___- This is the story of young Arthur and his struggle to overcome issues of growing up and the divorce of his parents while at the same time on the sidelines his nanny during his younger years being having her own issues is being discussed too. I only got hook with the book on the last 50 pa...more
Martha Hayes
Stays with you for a long time. Simple language,complex thoughts about the human condition.
Angelique
This book left me unsatisfied. I listened to it on audiobook and enjoyed the narrator. The writing is straightforward and the characters and situations were compelling enough but it didn't really go anywhere. Two big tragedies occur but there's very little commentary on either. There's no chance for redemption for any of the characters and no message imparted. I felt a little ripped off by that and the lack of ending. The reader is left holding the bag with all these yucky feelings and nothing m...more
Sara
MY TAKE:
“An intimate tale of the price of love and belonging, told in a spare, translucent, and unexpectedly tender voice.” It was a touching novel – reminiscent in tonality of “All About Lulu,” it is an insidious telling that sneaks its way into your heart. The stories and the paths of these people’s lives are … dark, depressing, unending, honest and real. How their lives interconnect, weaving through each other, all affected in some way by the death of Tara and Annie. I see pieces of myself an...more
Karen
My Review of Snow Angels by Stewart O’Nan

This is a story that links two families, almost indirectly, by a tragedy that affects them in enormously painful ways. Set in a rural community in Pennsylvania in mid-1970, the story is built around the lives of the two main characters, Arthur Parkinson and Annie Marchand. Arthur, who is the narrator of the chapters about his part in this heartbreaking story, is a 14-year-old high school student who is dealing with his family’s slowly decaying break up. A...more
Diane
Snow Angels, was a very dark novel of small town life in Pennsylvania in the mid-1970s. It's a tragic story that involves two families, and as the tragedy is introduced early on the story then flashes back so that the reader gets the full picture of events leading up to the tragedy.

In the story, Arthur Parkinson, now a grown man returns to his childhood community in PA, where he reflects on the events which attributed to his unhappy childhood. His parents were not nurturing parents, rather self...more
kari
This one I read as an example of dark fiction and I'm not sure exactly what the point of it all is.
The story is definitely dark.
A teenage boy, Artie, is caught in the middle of his parent's divorce. He often gets high with his best friend as a way of dealing with their constant fighting and, after the separation, his mother's anger and dependence on him. Artie's mother seems to take her aggression out on him and I never understood exactly what she was so angry about since it was her actions tha...more
Jason
Having never read Stewart O'Nan, I decided to give this, his first novel, a whirl. I was mostly interested because it's set in Western Pennsylvania, which is where I'm from. I can't say I was impressed, however. I am quite surprised that this novel won an award because the quality of the writing was lacking and badly in need of editing. O'Nan creates a believable sense of place (winter in Western Pennsylvania is indeed bleak and seemingly hopeless), but falls short when it comes to creating a be...more
M
This was an interesting read - O'Nan alternated between first person POV (something I have not seen him do) and then his usual omniscient as he matched two ongoing stories - Arthur's ninth grade year of turbulence as his father leaves and his mother begins to lose it while the babysitter he had a crush on is hit with tragedy, and then an omniscient look at the baby sitter's adult life. The shifting from a high schooler and his narrow perspective on life to the broadly narrated and frightening ad...more
Maya
Every time I read a book by Stewart O'Nan, I think to myself: "This book is perfect." I read in the NYT review of O'Nan's latest novel, Last Night at the Lobster (which I'm waiting to get my hands on) words to the effect that O'Nan has never been wildly successful because he's difficult to categorize: that each book is in effect an exploration of a different genre.

That may be true, but I would be hard pressed to think of another writer who can more perfectly inhabit each character in his novels...more
James
I first discovered Stewart O'Nan through his non-fiction when I read The Circus Fire: A True Story. It was a very good book and ever since then I thought I should read his fiction. I am glad I did because it is also very good, especially Snow Angels which is impressive for a first novel. Growing up in a small town myself and playing in the high school band I could relate in part to the story of Arthur Parkinson. While I have not experienced the tragedy and difficult home life he relates in his s...more
Lara
A little torn as to how to rate this, so...3 stars, I guess? On the one hand, I liked O'Nan's writing style, and he pretty quickly sucked me in. I especially enjoyed the parts from Arthur's point of view, told in first person. And I read the whole thing in one day, so, obviously it kept me interested. However, about 3/4 of the way through, things get...I dunno. Icky? Not icky gross, but icky disturbing--you know, like when you know something bad is coming (well, okay, you know that from the very...more
Ron
While I have enjoyed a number of O'Nan's books immensely, his first effort is a bit light and trite and so simplistic that it is a bit shocking that he has gone on to such a successful career. He repeats a great deal of adjectives and the print is so large and the pages so small that this wouldn't be much more than a 200 page book with more normal dimensions. Sadly, it is not one of those little gems that keeps one coming back for more.
Lynn
I bought this book after seeing a trailer for the upcoming movie, which is probably a terrible reason to buy a book. Unfortunately, the short 2 minute trailer was far more compelling than the book. Two parallel stories are being told in the novel: that of Glenn and Annie and their disintegrating marriage and that of Arthur Parkinson, a high school student suffering through his own family's dissolution. Though Arthur and Annie are tied together as former child and babysitter, I didn't feel the co...more
Stacy
Couldn't finish on the first read after 30 pages...
Determined, I started again. Turned out to be a very good read for me. (Interesting layers between the pages).

Arthur is 14 when he and a friend find his old babysitters daughter.
Arthur's father moves out and he stays with his mother and sister, Astrid, who is in the service. Annie, the babysitter, is separated from her husband, Glenn. Glenn is a (now) born-again, manic depressive.

Annie's life takes a small-town-gossip-horror filled turn, whil...more
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Stewart O'Nan is the author of eleven novels, including Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. His previous novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of the New York Public Library Books to Remember. Additionally, Granta named him one of the 20 Best Young Ameri...more
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