Snap: A Novel

Delicate story of impending death of a loved one.

What parents need to know

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is about a child dealing with the impending death of her best friend's grandmother, who has raised her. Her death doesn't happen in the book, but its inevitability hangs over it.

What's the story?

Edwina, called Eddie, likes to make lists, and she wears different colored rubber bands on her arm, which she snaps to remind herself of habits she wants to change: storing food in her cheeks, leaning back in her chair, and so on. She wants to keep the world tidy and organized. But the reason for the purple rubber band she keeps secret.

Her best friend is Sally, who lives with her grandmother, Willie. And Willie is dying. Willie knows it, Eddie knows it, and Sally knows it too. But Sally deals with it by turning away, by purposefully forgetting and rewriting her past. Eddie is a good friend, and she wants to help, but she doesn't know how. The world just refuses to stay simple and neat.

Is it any good?


For all the grimness of the subject, this is a lovely, quiet story, simply told, and it's most notable for all the things it isn't: no villains, no suspense, no tearjerking, no clueless adults, no deathbed scene -- in fact, no death. This isn't Willie's story, though she is the catalyst. It's the story of two friends trying to come to terms with grief and waiting for the inevitable changes that come to every life.

Despite its short length and simple language, it's a story of complexity: Nothing in life is as simple as we might like it to be, and every character, major and secondary, is three-dimensional. Eddie's mom chooses always to tell Eddie the truth, as hard as that sometimes can be, but she really pays attention when she tells it. Each character is, in her own way, unresolved, as is the story, which ends before the end. This is all just a not-so-simple way of saying this isn't just a story -- it's real.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about coping with the loss of a loved one. Compare how Sally and Eddie each react to Willie's decline. How does Eddie's mother's honesty help her come to terms with what's happening? What do you think happens after the book ends?

Book details

Author:Alison McGhee
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:August 22, 2005
Number of pages:129
Read aloud:9
Read alone:9

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old December 9, 2008
age 12+


Snap is a good book!
Adult Written byspankydo January 22, 2009
age 2+


This book has made me happy to have a grandma who took care of me when no one was there!
Adult Written bysmilyfacedotcom April 27, 2015
age 11+
I read this book sometime beween 6th grade and 7th grade and it was one of those books that left me an impacting message. To this day, I re-read pages and it fills me with strength. It is not a happy book, but it's a book that will teach kids to have a strong heart, which to me translates as "look at the silver lining" of things. If you are strong of heart, you will face challenges, learn from them and grow.
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