I really loved Snowflake Falls for about 1/2 or 3/4 of the book. The main character, Henry, has learned the profession of thievery from his uncle and his associates from a young age. Although Henry’s mother would be horrified if she knew, now that she is gone (cancer) and his uncle is unavailable to care for him (jail), Henry has been forced to fall back on the casing, lock-picking, and creeping skills he has picked up in order to stay out of foster care.
This first half of the book is absolutely delightful – Henry is living in a tree fort in an old lady’s house, filling in as the neighbourhood burglar for all his “benefactors.” The only problem is, he has a conscience and doesn’t like to take what people will miss – money for presents are off the list, as are items of sentimental value, and anything from someone down on their luck. Sometimes all he’s left with is loose change in sofa cushions. So times are tight for Henry, who is getting very little sleep and food, and who is finding it difficult to evade the authorities and convince his uncle that he’s doing ok. So it’s no wonder that he gets caught.
Thus starts the second part of the book – Henry’s incarceration in the tiny and sleepy rural town, Snowflake Falls. He is tasked with reforming himself and going above-board. This project proves to have mixed results.
The strengths of this book are the amazing characters – Henry’s mater-of-fact deadpan delivery is wonderfully spot-on, and very chuckleworthy throughout the book. His uncle and associates are similarly fun and quirky, and Snowflake Falls is populated by very singular individuals (some a little too grating at first). And the idea is charming – a teen thief with a conscience, who has a very sympathetic and unique insight into a lot of different lives.
Unfortunately, the second half of the book let me down. Not only was it jarring to be taken to a completely different setting (I felt like some things that had been set up were abandoned – like Henry’s relationship with Ambrose, his last benefactor), there also wasn’t enough time to properly develop this new world. And then, just as the plot had picked itself up and was loping along nicely – the book ended! There really was no climax – just a sudden left turn and a screeching halt at the finish. I really wanted more – it felt like the author had to rush and get his manuscript in on time, and I think another draft and 3o more pages would really have helped. I suspect I wouldn’t be complaining so much if I hadn’t enjoyed the first chunk so much – I was really hoping to have found my favourite funny guy book since Gordon Korman’s Schooled or Son of the Mob. In the end, Snowflake Falls is still worth the read – but probably won’t rock your world like it had the potential to.