Cover image for Snap : a novel
Snap : a novel
McGhee, Alison, 1960-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
129 pages ; 19 cm
Eleven-year-old Edwina confronts old and new challenges when her longtime best friend Sally faces the inevitable death of the grandmother who raised her.
Reading Level:
830 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.1 3.0 77521.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A sensitive girl comes to terms with loss and learns something about lasting ties in this genuine, gracefully told story.

Name: Edwina Stiles Beckey.
Nickname: Eddie.
Age: Eleven.
Hometown: North Sterns, New York, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.
Best Friend: Sally Hobart.
Favorite Activity: Making lists.

Eddie Beckey makes lists for just about everything and everyone in her life. And for matters of real importance, she wears (and snaps) an array of colored rubber bands on her wrist. Unfortunately, the world is not always so orderly and knowable. No list can help her cope with what's happening to her best friend, Sally -- or change the course of things for Sally's grandmother, whom Eddie has grown to love and depend on as well. With subtlety and insight, novelist Alison McGhee tells the story of a young girl's first encounter with grief, and of the enduring power of friendship.

Author Notes

Alison McGhee lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

She is the recipient of a Loft-McKnight Fellowship, a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, a 1995 Editor's Fiction Prize from Snake nation, and a Pushcart Prize honorable mention. Her title Bink and Gollie, Two for One with Kate DiCamillo made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012.

(Publisher Provided) Alison McGhee was born on July 8, 1960 and attended Middlebury College in Vermont. Her first book, Rainlight, won the Great Lakes College Association National Fiction Award and the Minnesota Book Award in 1999. She writes books for all ages including picture books like Countdown to Kindergarten and Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth, young adult books like Snap and All Rivers Flow to the Sea, and adult books like Shadow Baby and Was It Beautiful?. Her other awards include four Minnesota Book Awards, the GLCA National Fiction Award, Friends of the American Library Award, Gold Oppenheimer Toy Portfolio Award, ALA Best Books for Children, and Parents' Choice Award, and a City Pages Artist of the Year award. She is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Metropolitan State University.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. Edwina Beckly wears rubber bands on her arm; she snaps them to remind herself of things. The white one reminds her to cover her mouth when she laughs; the yellow one is so she won't tip back in chairs; the blue one helps her remember to think of her best friend Sally's grandmother as Willie, a person in her own right. Willie is on Eddie's mind a lot because she has a blood disease that is killing her. Who will take care of Sally when Willie dies? Jill, Sally's mother, is young and barely speaks. Who will braid Sally's hair? The story is pregnant with tragedy, but it's not so much what happens as the way McGhee, the author of three adult books, writes it. Her writing is precise, evocative, and sure, and although the story is told from the point of view of an 11-year-old, there's a purity of thought that exceeds much of what is presented in middle-grade fiction. Yet, despite this level of sophistication, Eddie and Sally both seem very real. The understated tone of the narrative draws readers near, as when one leans close to hear someone speaking softly. Children will come away thinking they have heard something quite profound about love, fear, and hope for the future. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Eddie (short for Edwina) learns that her best friend's grandmother is dying. "Readers will be drawn into Eddie's world and root for her as she stands by her best friend, and stands up to her own fears," PW said. Ages 9-12. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-In the summer before seventh grade, Edwina Beckey keeps her world in order by making lists and wearing colored rubber bands on her wrist to snap when she needs reminding (to quit tipping back in chairs, to stop covering her mouth when she laughs). There's an enigmatic sixth purple one, too, but Eddie doesn't share its true meaning. She also counts on her best friend, Sally, to be there for her. But Sally's beloved grandmother, Willie, who has raised Sally and performed such loving tasks as braiding her hair, is dying. While Sally angrily begins to try to shed memories of everything important to her, Eddie struggles against changes, to keep her friendship intact, and to accept Willie's imminent death herself. At the story's emotional crest, Eddie has shed her lists and no longer needs the rubber bands. She uses them to braid and fasten Sally's hair, and reveals the special meaning of the last one. A number of metaphors weave through the story: a "meander" or small stream that changes its banks, talismans for keeping dogs and death away, and others. Snap would make a strong discussion book for small-group reading. Like Kevin Henkes's Olive's Ocean (Greenwillow, 2003), it features memorable characters and a tolerance for eccentricity, emotional subtlety and complexity, themes of acceptance of death and love, and a spare and poetic text that begs to be reread and savored.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Sally Hobart is my best friend. Here is a partial list of what I know about Sally: Name: Sally Wilmarth Hobart. Favorite smell: Wood smoke. Favorite kind of cheese: Limburger. Favorite season: Spring. Favorite color: White. Best friend: Eddie Beckey. Favorite food: Chocolate-covered sprinkle doughnuts from the bakery at the back of Jewell's Groceries. I know so much else about Sally: her favorite books, the contents of her locker, the fact that on cheese pizza day she will buy, instead of bring, her lunch. Her preferred Monopoly piece, the only piece she will play with? The dog, because she's always wanted one. She used to suck her thumb but forced herself to stop. Her favorite class is earth science. Favorite body of water? The meander that twists its way through the meadow below her house. Favorite place in the world? The Cabin, where every summer we go camping. I could make a list of everything I know about Sally. But I wouldn't because Sally says that my lists are "spontaneity crushers." * * * Willie says that Sally is a sugar fiend. "Sally," Willie says, "consider the cave children. Did they wake up in the morning craving chocolate-covered sprinkle doughnuts?" "Cave children probably ate bloody chunks of raw meat for breakfast," Sally says. "And they lived in caves. I'd rather live in a house and eat sprinkle doughnuts." Willie thinks of herself as an anti-sugarist. Given a choice between salty and sweet, Sally's grandmother -- Willie -- will choose salty every time. That's why she prefers crackers over cookies. She bakes them herself. She rolls the cracker dough out thin on a cookie sheet and pricks it all over with a fork. After the dough is baked, when it's brown and cool, she breaks it into pieces. She bakes all kinds of crackers: cracked-pepper Parmesan, plain soda, Vermont cheddar with maple syrup. Sometimes I look up cracker recipes in the library so as to test her with the names of weird ones. Crackers I had never even imagined the existence of, Sally's grandmother knows all about. But still, she buys sprinkle doughnuts for Sally. "One of these days I'm going to stop and buy chunks of raw meat instead so that you can work on your cave-girl technique," she says. "You just watch." She's been saying that for years. What Sally loves most: Willie. What Willie loves most: Sally. I once would have thought there was nothing I didn't know about my best friend, but on the last day of sixth grade, that changed. Sally and I were riding the bus home to North Sterns, out here on the Remsen border, where the foothills rise up purple and shadowy, and it came to me that I hadn't seen Sally's grandmother for a while. Where was she? Why was she not tromping her way south along Route 274, scissoring both her arms at us to say hello as we passed her? Where was she, Willie, with her green pail and her keep-away-the-dogs stick? I realized that I had not been to dinner at Sally's house in a while. I could see the red-and-white checked tablecloth that Willie spreads in my honor, and I could smell the spaghetti sauce she makes for us, her hours-long spaghetti sauce whose secret ingredient is V8 juice -- yes, V8 -- bubbling away on the stove. "Sally? Where's your grandmother?" Sally was next to me on the long green vinyl seat of the bus, eight seats behind Shari, the driver. Sally had opened up her lunch box and was eating the apple she hadn't eaten at lunch. She usually saves something for the bus ride. It's a long one, especially the way Shari drives. You would think, looking at her, that Shari would drive fast and curse a lot, but no. "Sally?" Sally munched on. "Is she sick?" "She's fine," Sally said, around her mouthful of apple. "Why isn't she out walking, then?" Sally sat there next to me on the green vinyl seat, crunching away on that apple. She didn't look at me. Something flitted through me, a shadow of a feeling that made my stomach flutter. I gazed out the bus window and willed Willie to appear. I willed her arms to be up in the air, waving her hello to us. I willed her to be around the next curve, her big smile and her green pail. She wasn't. Sally didn't say anything. I felt for my purple rubber band. Snap. Excerpted from Snap by Alison McGhee All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.