Center of Winter
A NovelBook - 2005
At the center of winter, in Motley, Minnesota, Arnold Schiller gives in to the oppressive season that reigns outside and also to his own inner demons -- he commits suicide, leaving a devastated family in his wake.
Claire Schiller, wife and mother, takes shelter from the emotional storm with her husband's parents but must ultimately emerge from her grief and help her two young children to recover. Esau, her oldest, is haunted by the same darkness that plagued his father. At twelve years old, he has already been in and out of state psychiatric hospitals, and now, with the help of his mother and sister, he must overcome the forces that drive him deep into himself. But as the youngest, perhaps it is Katie who carries the heaviest burden. A precocious six-year-old who desperately wants to help her mother hold the family together, she will have to come to terms with the memory of her father, who was at once loving and cruel.
Narrated alternately by Claire, Katie, and Esau, this powerful and passionate novel explores the ways in which both children and adults experience tragic events, discover solace and hope in one another, and survive. The Center of Winter finds humor in unlikely places and evokes the north -- its people and landscape -- with warmth, sensitivity, and insight. The story of three people who, against all odds, find their way out of the center of winter, Marya Hornbacher's debut novel will leave you breathless, tearful, and ultimately inspired.
From the critics
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"When you're six, you don't know about what happens at the end. Because the world revolves around you when you're six, you assume the end must be catastrophic, because it would be catastrophic to you. The end would be dramatic and loud.
But what really happens at the end is that you sit down and have coffee without looking at each other. There is a sort of strange relief: The thing that was hanging in the air like a gas leak, invisible and toxic, has happened. It's out. It's a relief. It is a solid, tangible. When you're six, you can't possibly imagine that your parents---who are blowing carefully on their coffee---are only being peaceful because they know what you don't: that there is no stopping whatever comes next, and so they might as well have coffee while they wait."
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