Title: Snowflake Obsidian: Memoir of a Cutter
Author: Sage Steadman
Snowflake Obsidian is a very honest book, ‘beautiful and sincere’, as the main protagonists are. It is the story of Willow, her seemingly picture perfect life with her relationship and identity issues forming a backdrop. My ‘word’ for this book is ‘Redemption’ which is what I felt when I closed the book, having read it in a few breathtaking swoops.
The Book Blurb
Willow’s your basic potty-mouth Mormon hippie with anger issues. Despite her parents fighting, her life is seemingly perfect. She has lots of friends, little responsibility and a stunning collection of sequined pillows. But everything changes when she and her best friend fall for the same guy. River is sexy, mysterious, and likes to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But there is something more behind his troubled jade eyes that draws Willow in. Relationships are tested and Willow ends up friendless and alone as she navigates the rough waters of a fiery first love. Soon, the illusions of her perfect world crumble and Willow must reexamine the beliefs that once built her rocky foundation. This quirky coming of age story follows Willow and River’s unlikely romance as they battle their own inner demons and struggle to find themselves and their place in the adult world.
Willow describes herself as a Mormon Hippie who has a wonderful life. She has a good social circle, with a loyal gang of friends who seem to be hanging out with each other forever. Heck, they even have regular sleepovers, drifting in and out of each other’s houses without much hesitation. Parents or any kind of adults are strangely absent through these interactions. Even when these teenagers/adults face aggravated conditions like sexual assault, drug use or mental health issues the adults are in the background, sympathetic but not really playing an active role in their children’s lives.
The protagonists are on their own mostly, with their doubts, insecurities and identity issues, looking for guidance and support through their friends. And yet, this is the chronicling of a different kind of struggle where the protagonist, Willow, reaches the end, not just ‘whole’ but positively glowing.
Snowflake Obsidian touches on the difficult topics of drug use, depression and self harming behaviour like cutting oneself and dies do with a great amount of sensituvity. I had expected to feel repulsed by the cutting but I felt a lot of sympathy towards the main characters. Therapy is mentioned in some detail and the entire process of healing through thinking, understanding, analysing and getting there takes some time and false starts but they get there, the protagonists do.
In the middle of all the teenage angst, multiple relationships and manipulative people, is a light of rare sensitivity and beauty, through art, through genuine expression and the voicing of deep felt emotions.
I was intrigued by the name of the book and when the stone, Snowflake Obsidian takes an important place in the book, I had to look it up. It is a rock, used for healing purposes to help balance body, mind and spirit. Willow keeps this rock with her all the time when she is in the depressive phase of her life and trying to find balance in her emotions.
Even though the language is unpretentious and casual in places, the narration is never rambling. The pacing is also good, with short and long chapters, which move the story forward fast.
In midst of all the teenage-and-beyond troubles, there is real beauty of expression and language.
“I … realised that loving was easier to do than not loving, and not loving only led to suffering.”
The redemption of the book is not just about messy relationships and getting back to a place of love. It is also about self acceptance and openess.
There is also a quirky sense of humour, an ability to laugh at oneself.
“Every thought I had came with its own editorial on the subject. As if I had my own gossip column running in my head, complete with wild assumptions, scarring opinions, diluted facts and unwavering criticism.”
And then, there is the peanut analogy that kept getting funnier with each unpeeling layer.
Don’t miss this gem of a book. Snowflake Obsidian is a real book with real issues and it shows the way to light and peace.