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Snowflake, AZ.

Sedgwick, Marcus

Snowflake, AZ

Zephyr, 2019, pp384, [pounds sterling]12.99 978 1 78854 233 3

The work of a writer highly acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic--he has been shortlisted several times for the Carnegie, Guardian and won other prestigious international prizes--this novel addresses an important issue in today's world: in a word, 'sickness', affecting both the individual and society in general.

The teenage hero, Ash, presents his account, in an informal, American style dialogue, of how he went to Snowflake, Arizona in search of his much loved stepbrother, Bly. He finds Bly a member of a community where all the members, including Bly, are 'sick'. Shortly after his arrival Ash, too, falls sick. This sickness, presented in very general, non-specific terms, has arisen, it is claimed, out of the life-style currently prevalent throughout the world, the same life-style that is producing climate change and other problems.

While not writing specifically about himself or his own experience of illness--he suffers from ME--the writer explains that his novel, a work of fiction, draws upon his visit to a community living in the outskirts of Snowflake, a small town in Arizona. The novel focuses on illnesses brought on by exposure to the chemicals, pollutants etc. of the modern world, by the way of life common today and by the allergies which develop. The narrative also draws attention to diagnoses of illness, such as 'it's all in the mind', which are both unhelpful and frustrating to the sufferer. A highly imaginative--at times requiring suspension of disbelief--and thought-provoking work.

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Author:Finlayson, Elizabeth
Publication:School Librarian
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 22, 2019
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