Review: Henrietta Snow by Ruth Doan MacDougall

And what happens next? This is the question that readers of the best-seller The Cheerleader and its sequel, Snowy, have been asking, and now they can discover the answer in Henrietta Snow. New readers will relish a satisfying novel complete in itself. “Our generation,” Snowy says, “is ‘the disappeared.’ We’ve dropped out of sight between our parents’ generation – ‘The Greatest Generation’- and the baby boomers. Remember how we were called ‘The Silent Generation?’ Nobody knows about us.” But here they are: Snowy, Bev, Puddles, Tom, Dudley, and all the Gang from Gunthwaite High School, turning fifty and then-eek!-sixty. How do they reshape their dreams and their lives?

Henrietta Snow is a follow-up to The Cheerleader and Snowy. I read The Cheerleader many years ago, but I don’t believe I’ve read Snowy yet. This book is not a YA book and the only reason I’m reviewing it here is because The Cheerleader is. I may someday read and review The Cheerleader because I count it as one of my favorite books of all time.

At almost 500 pages, Henrietta Snow takes place from 1987 through New Year’s Eve 1999, and ages the title character, nicknamed Snowy, from 48 to 60. A recent widow forced to sell her home in hopes of protecting herself from bankruptcy, Snowy faces many life changes during these twelve years: her daughter growing up (Ruhamah is 16 at the beginning of the book, so nearly grown), romance with an old boyfriend, death, changes in friendships, and a new career. But this book isn’t just about the big stuff. It also details Snowy’s day to day life in running her business, socializing, birthdays and holidays. It’s small town life in New Hampshire and most of Snowy’s closest associates are people she’s known since high school.

The pacing of the book is steady, almost plodding. Everything, big and small, is dealt with rather matter-of-factly. It happens, Snowy experiences it, and then something else happens. Even the big events are not overly dramatic.

I love Snowy as a character, so I was happy to meet up with her and spend this time with her and catch up. I usually don’t like to think of characters I love growing old, but I don’t mind it in this case. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because Snowy was always older than I am, but not so much older as to be inaccessible. She could be my grandmother — someone I know rather than a distant ancestor the way a character living through the Civil War or in the Middle Ages would be — and I’ve always related to her in that way, even as I was reading about her teen years.

I recommend reading this series in order. I wish I had. There are a lot of references to things that happened in the timespan between The Cheerleader and Henrietta Snow, and I think at least some of them were probably covered in Snowy. Now when I eventually read Snowy, I will know they are coming. The Cheerleader chronicles Snowy’s high school years (Class of 1957); Snowy takes her through the next thirty. With Henrietta Snow starting in 1987, it must pick up shortly after Snowy ends. There are also two additional books: The Husband Bench or Bev’s Book and A Born Maniac or Puddles’ Progress. I have not yet read those either, but I believe they should be read after Snowy and in that order: Bev then Puddles. Bev and Puddles are Snowy’s best friends from high school, still in her life all these years later.