Cover image for A perfect snow
A perfect snow
Martin, Nora.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
144 pages ; 22 cm
Seventeen-year-old Ben must deal with a violent white-supremacy hate group in his small Montana town because his father and his friends are involved with it.
Reading Level:
620 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.3 5.0 59201.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.2 10 Quiz: 31863 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Seventeen-year-old Ben has just moved from a ranch where his dad was the foreman, to a trailer park where his dad doesn't have a job. His dad has befriended a local mechanic who runs what seems to be a men's support group but is in fact a white supremacist organization. At first Ben finds it easy to believe the rhetoric and is soon blaming gays, Jews and other groups for all his problems. Ben and his brother, David participate in the group's horrible activities, but with the help of new friends who challenge his thinking, Ben soon realizes the danger in propagating hatred. Ben may be able to save himself, but has his younger brother already gone too far?

Author Notes

Nora Martin is the author of two previous books for children: The Eagles Shadow , which was a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, and The Stone Dancers . Nora spent several years teaching a weekly poetry class for teenage boys living in a shelter home and now is a school librarian in rural Montana.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-12. Ben's father has lost his job as a ranch foreman, and the Campbell family is now living in a trailer in tiny Lodgette, Montana. Times are hard, and 17-year-old Ben, his younger brother, David, and their dad have begun blaming others for their misfortunes, egged on by Lonn, a self-styled minister and founder of a white supremacist group called "Guardians of the Identity." Ben, who has already committed several petty hate crimes, seems headed for serious trouble when he meets and falls in love with Eden, a new girl at school who, it turns out, is Jewish. Martin's second novel is not completely successful. Ben changes as fast as the Montana seasons, and the plot feels manipulated (too much comes to light through conveniently overheard conversations). Nevertheless, the setting is vividly realized (the author lives in rural Montana), and the timely premise will provoke thought as well as discussion in and out of the classroom. --Michael Cart

Publisher's Weekly Review

An angry teen gets involved with a white supremacist group in Martin's (The Eagle's Shadow) uneven problem novel. Ben Campbell's embittered dad can't find work and the family has moved to a trailer park in Lodgette, Mont. Feeling snubbed at school, Ben, who narrates, responds to the racist rhetoric of the "Guardians of the Identity" meetings his father takes him to, and experiences a surge of power when he sets a Jewish lawyer's car on fire. But when he, along with others, throws rocks at an allegedly gay student's windows, the victim's face reminds Ben of his younger brother, David, and Ben feels unexpected remorse. He's further troubled when the group's leader praises the vandalism, making it "sound as if we were doing something good and positive," and Ben sees his errors in what reads as a sudden about-face. Befriended by rich Jason and dating Eden, who turns out to be part Jewish, his eyes are opened further but he cannot stop David from becoming more involved with the group. While much of the prose is graceful, Ben and the others unfortunately come across less as three-dimensional characters than as vehicles for general observations about the roots of hate; for example, as the Guardians' leader accuses "the Jews" of taking over the banks and the government, Ben thinks, "For the first time everything made sense. There was a reason for Dad losing his job." Quick resolutions combined with the thinly developed cast yield a relatively simplistic handling of a complex issue. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Frank Campbell has raised his teenaged sons in an atmosphere of hatred and despair. Ben is a brawler, a trailer-park kid who rails against RETCH (rich enough to cheat) kids. At the same time, he feels empowered by the escalating acts of violence he commits as a new member of Guardians of the Identity, a group promulgating racial, ethnic, and gender/identity intolerance in his small, contemporary Montana town. But then Ben meets Eden and begins to see the error of his ways. There is some beautiful writing here, and the plot is well conceived and well paced. The relationships between Ben and Eden and Ben and the RETCHed Jason are interesting and largely believable. But the other characters are slight figures about which readers must mostly make assumptions. Lonn, the mechanic-by-day leader of the Guardians, is never shown to be as charismatic as he is alleged to be. Ben is sure that his dad would not endorse his violent acts, but readers have nothing to substantiate this belief. His mother, who acts as a kind of moral counterweight, is insufficiently fleshed out to be credible. Sprinkled with slurs and common vulgarities, the language is realistically offensive. The ending is pat, but also intriguingly open-ended. Early on, Eden remarks that snow "hides the messes people make." The messes here have been covered over too long, and Ben's family resolves to reveal and deal with them. The story will likely get readers thinking about the changes people undergo and their own motivations and beliefs. They will come away with the realization that actions inevitably bear consequences, sometimes unexpected ones.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.