With shades of When You Reach Me, The Thing About Jellyfish, and Bridge to Terabithia, and a big, timely climate hook at its core, here is a heartfelt middle grade debut about the inevitability of change that will resonate profoundly during these extraordinary times.
Spring has arrived, and yet an unyielding winter freeze has left Louisa snowed into her apartment building for months with parents coping with extreme stress, a little brother struggling with cabin fever, and—awkwardly—her neighbor and former close friend, Luke. The new realities of this climate disaster have not only affected Louisa's family, but when Luke's dad has an ice-related accident and it's unclear if he'll recover, both families' lives are turned upside down.
Desperate to find an escape from the grief plaguing their homes, Louisa and Luke build a massive snow fort in their yard. But their creation opens up an otherworldly window to what could lie ahead, and sets them on a mission: to restore the universe to its rightful order, so the ice will melt and life will return to "normal".
With a deft combination of heartfelt prose and a touch of magic, Monica Sherwood's affecting debut novel is a relatable story of families grappling with—and emerging from—a different kind of quarantine.
I grew up in New York, where I dreamed of becoming a teacher, a writer, an ice skater, an artist, an interior designer, and occasionally, a professional taste-tester. Though I'm still not totally sure what I want to be when I grow up, I've always loved stories, and I feel so lucky that I get to write them.
This book is definitely a work of art. I think Louisa summed it up best when presenting her project; “But I don’t need to tell you what it means, exactly, because these symbols could mean one thing for me and something else for you. My mom told me that art should make you feel something, so I hope that’s what my painting does…” A beautiful book that will resonate will anyone who has endured through the past two years…
I think the metaphor and analogy of the Freeze to the current pandemic is obvious, so it was really hard for me to read this very bleak story. I do want to like it, but it moves gently, so much so that it drags, and in my opinion it doesn't have a satisfying ending. Couldn't really like it.
The global freeze felt a whole lot like the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I think readers will be able to relate quite easily. There are a whole lot of tough things going on in this book, though, so super sensitive readers may be overwhelmed. There is a touch of magic realism that didn't quite feel resolved, but the stories of friendship and family and community are very solid.
I love the premise of this book—two kids build an ice house in their backyard that transports them to happier times and helps them cope with the fear, anxiety, and frustration they feel with their world encased in a strange, dangerous deep freeze. I was expecting a portal fantasy-ish read, but that's really not what I got. THE ICE HOUSE is more of a family/friend drama than anything else. While I found the idea of a magical ice house to be the most interesting and compelling thing about the novel, it really wasn't a huge part of the story, unfortunately. I definitely wanted it to play a bigger role. Other than that disappointment, I found THE ICE HOUSE to be a heartfelt book filled with sympathetic characters who learn important lessons about dealing with brokenness. There's nothing really unique about the tale, but I do think today's kids will relate well to the fear, anxiety, frustration, claustrophobia, etc. that the characters in the novel feel as they deal with their own worldwide crisis.
If I could, I would give this book 3 1/2 stars; since I can't, I rounded up.
The Ice House is about a girl named Louisa who is living through an unprecedented historical event - a massive continuous snowstorm that covers the entire globe and lasts for months well past winter. Louisa and her family are all stuck at home as travel is dangerous because of all the ice and snow. When the father of her former best friend has an accident and loses his memory, she finds herself spending a lot more time with her friend. Together they build a snow fort that seems to be magical. Can the magic of the fort help them to fix their families and see the end of the Freeze?
I sort of enjoyed this novel, I found Louisa very relatable and her struggles seemed very real and well developed. The reason why I didn't like this novel as much is probably just personal, but I felt like it was too soon for me to read something like this. There are a lot of parallels to the global pandemic we've been living in for the past couple years. It is an entirely different situation, since it's focused on a weather related event rather than a medical one, but it touched on virtual learning, food shortages, staying home with family, death - though that isn't as prevalent in the novel - the challenges of maintaining friendships when you can't see your friends in person, how everything in life changed very suddenly, uncertainty of the future, etc.
I think this might be a great novel to use to talk about some of these topics with children, but it definitely isn't for a person who is looking for some escapism in their novels.
While this book is not about the pandemic, there are going to be many pieces of it that will be relatable for today's readers. In this story there is a freeze that has taken over the world. Kids are remote learning. People stay in their homes because travel is limited to essential traveling only. Louisa feels like her friend group is starting to shift during this time. She is hanging out with Luke, who used to be a friend, but is now someone more to just hang out with since they live in the same building. But when Luke's dad has a horrible accident, Louisa figures out how to be a better friend to Luke. Which includes hanging out in the ice house they made in the backyard. While they are inside the house, they learn it can do something special, something magical. Maybe it's the key to moving forward with life.
The Ice House perfectly constructs a story that makes a mini ice age (the freeze) seem relatable. Louisa and her apartment neighbour Luke are stuck inside in isolation due to the freezing temperatures and unsafe snow outside. With online schooling and uncertainty about when life will go back to normal. Sound familiar? When their respective families become too much to bear inside (annoying little brothers anyone?), Louisa and Luke decide to create an ice house. Using their maker's club knowledge, they construct an igloo, which becomes a place of escapism and hope.
This novel perfectly captures a range of experiences and emotions in a middle-grade appropriate way. Big issues like injuries, death and grief caused by the freeze aren’t shied away from, and neither are their parent's emotions, one of which could be seen as depression. Feelings about being anxious about a return to school and friendships changing due to the time spent apart are relatable and dealt with realistically. Even though Louisa and Luke desperately want a return to normalcy, this book doesn’t try to solve all its character's problems (or the world’s problems) but rather lets them play out, leaving room for hope, growth and enduring friendship.
I had high expectations for this book based on the blurb but it didn't meet them. It was a decent story but the frozen settings wasn't integral to the story. Everyone was sad and challenged by something but none were truly tied to the unprecedented global freeze. I think that was the main issue for me - I was expecting the challenges to be directly related to the unusual setting and they simply weren't. And there were so many personal dramas - all the major characters were struggling with various issues - so it gave the book a depressing feel. Perhaps that's how winter weather makes some people feel but it didn't make for an uplifting read. Overall it was a fairly good read but the premise promised so much more.
I just finished this book this morning. It deals well with some hard life topics (changing of friends, death of loved ones, parents struggling, etc) and pivotal life changes. As a parent, it was a enlightening read as parent/child relationship was given through the 6th grader’s point of view.
The main character becomes close friends to a family friend’s son so there is a boy/girl friendship but nothing romantic. There was a bit of magic or imagining of the future but nothing that is more than possible day dreaming. There is no profanity or objectionable content. It might be a bit heavy for pre-teens but overall I think it’s a solid read especially in light of the past few years. I highly recommend it for anyone with some guidance for the tender hearted.
Endless winter has covered the world and all Louisa longs for is that things will return to normal. Life happens: Nana dies, Mom decides to stop her glassblowing, her friend's dad hits his head when he slips on the ice and develops amnesia. People are tired of being stuck in small apartments with only family members. Louisa is tired of online school and misses her friends even though they can communicate online. Louisa teams with Luke to build a house of ice behind their apartment building which becomes a refuge and a possible magical window. Friendships change as they normally would, but Louisa blames it all on the endless ice and snow.
Slow burn friendship/family story as 2 close knit neighbor families deal with a months long snowpocalypse. Isolation issues and energy levels for everyday life is similar to the current covid pandemic. Little bright hopeful spots begin to appear and things change for the families. Love the fantasy of the ice house ceiling and the hopeful glimpse into the future - we all could use some of that well into the second year of covid. Love the cover art! Thought this was going to have a bit more sci fi/dystopia kind of action.
There were parts about this book that I enjoyed but for the most part I think it was too soon for me to read a homebound book. I see how a few years down the road, every child will be able to relate to this book but while still being in the thick of it it is too much for me. Especially with the mother's grief, I sympathized more with the mother than anyone else.
A strong debut, with a great Freeze, which traps Louise, her younger brother at home with Mom and Dad. Louise forms a friendship with her neighbor Luke, whose dad suffers a brain injury. The best part of this book was the ice house they build in the backyard. The Ice Age descriptions gave me chills (ha).
Brilliant and touching story, brimming with relevance to the challenges faced by young people coping with the consequences of unforeseen global developments. Sherwood mines the silver lining exquisitely.
It was a good story, but I had a hard time being there right now. It felt too much like what we are experiencing with the pandemic - the isolation, the shortages, the way the situation is affecting relationships. I think I would have really enjoyed this book pre-pandemic.
I give this one 2.5-3, but in fairness, it was middle grade and I don’t ever read middle grade. I heard it recommended on a podcast and I can do YA, so I gave it a try. I feel like it just needed more depth. But for the intended audience, it might be perfect.
While The Ice House is about a weather-related crisis, those who have just been through the COVID pandemic will find the myriad of details in this story to be very familiar to the past two years of their own lives.