The Sudden Weight of Snow
This virtuoso first novel weaves stories and decades into a tightly knit, haunting narrative, as it sets into relief two generations marked by the 1960s – those who lived through them, and those who came after.
Seventeen-year-old Sylvia (Harper) Kostak is caught between her mother’s regrets and the strictures of small-town life in the interior of British Columbia. When Harper meets Gabe, an intense and enigmatic young man living on the ’60s-style arts commune outside of town, she is transfixed. Gradually we learn Gabe’s story and what led him to join his estranged mother on the commune, where, in a bid for freedom, Harper eventually finds herself, setting in motion a series of events leading to tragedy.
Resonant with longing and a sense of isolation, the novel brings alive the agonies and ecstasies of growing up, sexual discovery, and how the need to belong can shape both decisions and destinies.
Honourable Mention for Amazon First Novel Award
Reviews + Praise
The Sudden Weight of Snow is true in a way only excellent fiction can be. Each character gropes toward understanding. Their groping makes the story work. Rosnau’s nearly perfect emotional pitch, precise descriptions and gift for nuance makes Harper’s own confusion compelling.
Quite an achievement in a first novel. – The Ottawa Citizen
Laisha Rosnau’s debut is that rarity, a gem of a first novel… As first efforts go, this is as good as it gets. Rosnau is one writer whose book lives up to the jacket hype. She can sum up an entire character in two sentences. Her lean prose is spare but juicy…What remains is fresh, original, funny and rife with insight – social satire mixed with realism in a coming of age format…
Rosnau has exhibited a stunning debut. – Toronto Star
The Sudden Weight of Snow is compassionately conceived and beautifully written. The characters and language insinuate themselves into the mind and become an unshakable and welcome part of the reader’s landscape. Laisha Rosnau’s talent in undeniable, and she manages to create joy for the reader in her exquiste rendering of the story while making the story itself touched off by tragedy. – Edmonton Journal
Rosnau’s prose is delicate and powerful, all-encompassing – like the snow of the title. Harper’s intelligence, sensistivity and confusion are conveyed with a sureness that belies the fact that this novel is a first one. The Sudden Weight of Snow is dazzling in its reflection of the trauma of youth… – Victoria Times-Colonist
Rosnau shifts between the ho-hum lives of teens … and the intense reality of emotional and sexual awakenings. The result is arresting narrative, full of insights and poetic renderings. Rosnau’s real achievement is to take Harper’s seemingly graceless life, as well as the gracelss town she’s mired in, and make from them a provocative study of alienation and belonging. – Vancouver Sun
Rosnau’s tale is about time and place, and the search for roots, a personal grounding place. Her prose has power and weight. – Hamilton Spectator
The Sudden Weight of Snow is an engrossing novel. Rosnau never comes out and states her themes, and instead chooses the harder path of letting them emerge subtly through the story and the structure. You come away from the book with a renewed appreciation of just how mysterious other people can be – not just strangers, but the very people who are closest and most important to you. – Vue Weekly
The book builds to an unexpected, action-packed climax that leaves us with a renewed awareness of the precariousness of life. The writing is finely drafted throughout, earthy yet lyrical. Rosnau is a talent to watch. – Montreal Gazette
The Sudden Weight of Snow declares the arrival of an exciting new voice on the CanLit scene. – Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Rosnau is an excellent writer… and she has the possibility of becoming a major Can Lit star. – Books in Canada