My thoughts: Glaciers is a quiet, introspective little novel, and Isabel is a quirky delight. She has a charming sense of wonder coupled with disappointment:
"Her sister read that spiders have book lungs, which fold in and out over themselves like pages. This pleased Isabel immensely. When she learned later that humans do not also have book lungs, she was disappointed. Book lungs. It made complete sense to her. This way breath, this way life: through here."This combination feeds into her sadness for the objects she treasures, both personally and professionally. Her work fixing damaged books in the library's basement emphasizes the hope: these things are broke, but they can be fixed and shared once again. Similarly, when she discovers postcards sent to others at thrift shops, she seeks to give them a new home again.
Glaciers is a novel that made me slow down my reading and take in the world as Isabel does: "Isabel remembers this amusement from the last visit, as well. The woman seems ready to be pleased with the world." There's a beautiful thoughtfulness to Smith's detailed writing here.
What's fascinating about this novel is Isabel herself. If you're looking for plot, you won't find much in the first half of this novel. If, however, you want to enter Isabel's curious world, and read beautiful, thoughtful prose, Glaciers is for you:
"It’s a strange product of infatuation, she thinks. To want to tell someone about mundane things. The awareness of another person suddenly sharpens your senses, so that the little things come into focus and the world seems more beautiful and complicated."Favorite passage: "Change was inevitable, but she could not imagine what the future might look like, or what her place might be in it. All she could do was hope she did not end up in a shoe box at a Salvation Army Thrift Store."
The verdict: Glaciers is a quiet, contemplative novel with a delightful, fresh voice. Much of the novel is unassuming, but the impact of the ending will resonate with me for some time.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 112 pages
Publication date: January 17, 2012
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