Author Danya Kukafka grew up in Fort Collins, so when she set out to write her riveting novel “Girl in Snow,” she chose Colorado as the gorgeous, ominous backdrop.
When a student at the fictional Jefferson High School turns up dead — neck broken, on a playground, in an unnatural position — members of the “Broomville,” Colorado, community venture down an intriguing path as they come to terms with Lucinda’s death and work to solve her murder. In “Girl in Snow,” her first novel, Danya Kukafka beautifully explores the themes of “identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.”
The who-done-it murder mystery, which was released by Simon & Schuster on August 1, is receiving rave reviews.
Kukafka started writing the novel at the age of 19, shortly after graduating from high school in Fort Collins. Now she’s 25 and living in New York, where she works in the publishing industry.
I went to Poudre High School, and I really loved it,” Kukafka told Colorado Public Radio. “I had a good group of friends and great teachers, but you know, high school can be horrible and awkward for everyone, right? … There’s no way around the pain and insecurity of being a teenager. And that’s why I chose to write about teenagers because I think they’re so explosive and so volatile, and in many ways I think that makes great fodder for fiction.”
The story revolves around three characters as they grapple with Lucinda’s death — the boy who loved her too much, the girl who wanted her perfect life, and the officer assigned to investigate her murder.
“I was really interested in seeing how far I could stretch a reader’s empathy — sort of pushing a character to the boundaries of what is socially accepted and socially allowed,” Kukafka said. “And seeing if there’s a way that he could still be sympathetic and loved by a reader.”
And why did she set the story in her home state of Colorado?
I’ve lived in New York for seven years now, and when I come back, I’m always just struck by how beautiful it is here,” she said. “It’s also sort of a jarring beauty … the Front Range — because you have the huge mountains on one side, and you have these towns tucked into the base of the mountains, and on the other side you have these open plains. And to me, it’s kind of ominous in some ways, which I love.”
Kukafka graduated from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. You can purchase “Girl in Snow” on Amazon or at your local bookstore, or — if you’re willing to wait — put your name on the waiting list at your local library!
Have you had a chance to read “Girl in Snow”? What are some other great books that are set in Colorado? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!