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Review: 'Cover of Snow' asks hard questions

"Cover of Snow" (Ballantine), by Jenny Milchman

Jenny Milchman's debut novel, "Cover of Snow," intimately examines the life of a woman who is in grief and pain, doubt and shock, following the death of her husband.

Nora Hamilton woke up after a wonderful night of passion and reconciliation to find an empty bed. She discovers her husband, Brendan, hanging from a rope. From all outward appearances, he was happy, and Nora doesn't believe he took his own life. It makes no sense that he would kill himself, and he didn't leave a note.

The friends and family she could depend on while he was alive are now distant. All Nora wants are the answers to why Brendan died, and looking for them will take her on a journey that will have her questioning her sanity — and the man she married.

Brendan is somewhat of an enigma since the reader never gets to see him alive, but that's the point. The first-person account told from Nora's point of view thrusts the narrative full force into horror, sadness and every other emotion Nora experiences as she must start over without Brendan.

It's really not much of a surprise when the answers to Brendan's death are revealed. But what makes "Cover of Snow" sing is Milchman's ability to make readers care for Nora as she suffers and starts anew.

How well do we know our loved ones, and how will we cope when they're gone? These hard and uncomfortable questions propel Nora's story as we examine those questions for ourselves.

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