SNAP by Alison McGhee
Written by Alison McGhee.
Cover photograph by Christine Rodin.
Published by Candlewick Press.
Ages: 9-12 yrs. Though I would personally put it at 15-18 yrs.
Reviewed by sandhya.
Eddie Beckey is an 11yr old. She has a very close friend, Sally Hobart. They have been friends since they both joined 2nd grade as new students. Eddie likes to have everything under control. She likes to make lists, and has six different coloured rubber bands on her wrist, which she snaps to remind her when she wants to control some bad habit.
Sally lives with her grandmother, Willie, and they both mean the world to each other. Willie’s daughter Jill, Sally’s mother, lives in the same village, but is unable to take care of Sally. She had been just 15, a few years older than Sally and Eddie are now, when Sally had been born. Jill lives by herself and works at a local store. Incidents in her past have affected her so profoundly, that she has lost the will to speak.
Most of this background is revealed to us in Eddie’s musings and flashbacks. During the summer in which the actual incidents of the book are set, something very strange happens, and Eddie’s world spins out of control. She keeps feeling that both Sally and Willie are hiding something from her, and she is deeply hurt. After all, they are such close friends that she knows Sally better than Sally herself. Well, almost. So what is it? Eddie is sure it has something to do with Willie. And then she knows.Willie is dying. So who will take care of Sally when she is gone? Will Jill be able to finally look after her daughter? Sally is in such denial, that she even denies the importance of Eddie in her life, all the things they had shared for so many years, all the things that had happened in their lives to make them such close friends.
The book ends with a shift in the relationship between Sally and Eddie. Eddie, who loves Sally’s gorgeous, thick hair, which Willie had been braiding in myriad ways all her life, braids it for her in six plaits, using all six of the different coloured rubber bands on her wrist.
Eddie’s musings, typical for a teenager, are almost poetic in their intensity, and make reading SNAP an unforgettable experience. The feelings get under your skin and leave you dazzled. The book is classified for ages 9-12, but when I finished with it, I felt it was more appropriate for 15-18yrs, although the protogonist is 11yrs old. The emotional layers are of a slightly older child.
It is a beautifully written book about the power of friendship. The line on the cover page says it all: ‘When your best friend’s life changes, can your friendship survive?’