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At the center of winter, in Motley, Minnesota, Arnold Schiller gives in to the oppressive season that reigns outside and also to his own inner demons -- he commits suicide, leaving a devastated family in his wake.

Claire Schiller, wife and mother, takes shelter from the emotional storm with her husband's parents but must ultimately emerge from her grief and help her two young children to recover. Esau, her oldest, is haunted by the same darkness that plagued his father. At twelve years old, he has already been in and out of state psychiatric hospitals, and now, with the help of his mother and sister, he must overcome the forces that drive him deep into himself. But as the youngest, perhaps it is Katie who carries the heaviest burden. A precocious six-year-old who desperately wants to help her mother hold the family together, she will have to come to terms with the memory of her father, who was at once loving and cruel.

Narrated alternately by Claire, Katie, and Esau, this powerful and passionate novel explores the ways in which both children and adults experience tragic events, discover solace and hope in one another, and survive. The Center of Winter finds humor in unlikely places and evokes the north -- its people and landscape -- with warmth, sensitivity, and insight. The story of three people who, against all odds, find their way out of the center of winter, Marya Hornbacher's debut novel will leave you breathless, tearful, and ultimately inspired.

Topics: Love and Grief

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061740367
List price: $10.99
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This is a powerful book. I read this after I read Ms. Hornbacher's memoir, "Madness" and I really felt that the mental illness described in this book is made real because of her personal experiences. The story deals with subjects that we can hardly deal with in real life. But at the same time, it is a hopeful novel, that invites the reader to recognize that life can go on with meaning, even in the face of tragedy.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Sunday, October 15, 2006Good reading Last Saturday I was digging through the shelves for something to read. A trip to the bookstore wouldn't fit into the agenda. My little town's library is usually closed by the time I can get to it, and nothing on my shelves appealed. This meant raiding the womanchild's room. C., getting rather annoyed with my shuffling around in her room while she was there, asked what I was looking for. My response sent her into action, and she gave me a stack of books and the order to read them. The kid did good.First on her list was The Center of Winter by Marya Hornbacher. This book tells the story of a family hit by mental illness and suicide. It's a tale told as cleanly and starkly as the cold plains in which it is set. The central theme is the quiet courage it takes to keep living when it would just be so easy to stop. The book is peopled with rich characters and filled with tiny details that make it real. I found myself wanting to button the character's sweaters, give them their medications, and refill their drinks. These people needed someone to take care of them but found the ability within. I was both rushing to the end, desperate to find some evidence of recovery and hope and unwilling to put the book down. I'm going to enjoy re-reading this book. Hornbacher is also the author of Wasted, the best book on living with an eating disorder that I've ever read.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I absolutely loved this book and its child's view of adult problems.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

This is a powerful book. I read this after I read Ms. Hornbacher's memoir, "Madness" and I really felt that the mental illness described in this book is made real because of her personal experiences. The story deals with subjects that we can hardly deal with in real life. But at the same time, it is a hopeful novel, that invites the reader to recognize that life can go on with meaning, even in the face of tragedy.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Sunday, October 15, 2006Good reading Last Saturday I was digging through the shelves for something to read. A trip to the bookstore wouldn't fit into the agenda. My little town's library is usually closed by the time I can get to it, and nothing on my shelves appealed. This meant raiding the womanchild's room. C., getting rather annoyed with my shuffling around in her room while she was there, asked what I was looking for. My response sent her into action, and she gave me a stack of books and the order to read them. The kid did good.First on her list was The Center of Winter by Marya Hornbacher. This book tells the story of a family hit by mental illness and suicide. It's a tale told as cleanly and starkly as the cold plains in which it is set. The central theme is the quiet courage it takes to keep living when it would just be so easy to stop. The book is peopled with rich characters and filled with tiny details that make it real. I found myself wanting to button the character's sweaters, give them their medications, and refill their drinks. These people needed someone to take care of them but found the ability within. I was both rushing to the end, desperate to find some evidence of recovery and hope and unwilling to put the book down. I'm going to enjoy re-reading this book. Hornbacher is also the author of Wasted, the best book on living with an eating disorder that I've ever read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I absolutely loved this book and its child's view of adult problems.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I don't know how to change the cover picture to the white one with the window (the edition I have), but this one is quite pretty so I'll keep it. Is it bad that I want to buy another edition of the book just for the pretty cover?
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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