Staff Review: Snow Lane
Annie Bianchi is a fifth-grader with dyslexia. This disability makes life difficult for her in many ways. She struggles to read and dress herself. She is teased when she smiles and laughs for no apparent reason. Annie has a habit of counting things and arranging numbers into organized groups. It is a coping mechanism for when she doesn’t know how to handle the situations around her. Unfortunately, those situations come up often:
“When you’re the youngest of nine kids and your mom is stretched so thin you can practically walk through her, you know when to be afraid.”
Annie is frequently up against abusive situations at home. She covers up for the incidents and creates excuses so that her friends won’t visit her house. However, when a social worker eventually discovers the family’s secret, Annie is finally able to see things from her point of view. Annie’s family seriously needs help—but the solution won’t be as straightforward as simply separating them.
It is tragic to read about Annie’s circumstances: how little positive attention she receives from her parents, her siblings’ cruel treatment of her and constant bullying of each other, her mother’s hoarding habits. Through all of this, Annie’s spirit is not broken. Her fresh, honest voice narrating the story is at times absolutely hilarious and made me feel an instant connection with her character. Because of the book’s unsettling subject matter and occasional strong language, I encourage parents to read it along with their kids or have a teacher guide the reading. Annie’s story is one you will not soon forget!