Books: A Minnesota take on the world’s oldest professionMary Casanova, a Minnesota author of more than 30 books, will be visiting Duluth from her hometown of Ranier on Thursday, Sept. 27 to celebrate the release of “Frozen,” her first book for young adults.
By: Maureen Maloney, Duluth Public Library
Mary Casanova, a Minnesota author of more than 30 books, will be visiting Duluth from her hometown of Ranier on Thursday, Sept. 27 to celebrate the release of “Frozen,” her first book for young adults. She will be appearing at Norway Hall at 7:00 p.m. along with Duluth author Margi Preus, whose book “Shadow on the Mountain” was also recently published.
Casanova’s Frozen is a fascinating story of prostitution, bootlegging, murder, political corruption, and the tug-of-war between environmentalists and industrialists on the Minnesota-Canada border in the early 1900s. It is told from the point of view of 16-year-old Sadie Rose, whose father dies under suspicious circumstances when she is a baby, and whose mother turns to prostitution to support herself and her daughter.
As if that isn’t bad enough, when she is five, Sadie Rose witnesses her mother being left for dead in a snow bank and the horrific, humiliating public display of her frozen body. The trauma leaves her with the inability to speak. For many years she is trapped in the mystery of her past. The discovery eleven years later of a hidden stash of photographs of her mother opens the door to memories of what happened that nightmarish winter evening.
The photos spark a desire to discover her identity and shape her future. As she searches for answers, she learns the ugly truth about her adoptive father, a senator, and prominent businessman who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. She also finds herself opening up to new friendships, exploring the meaning of family, and experiencing her first romance.
The release of Frozen marks another first: to date, it is the only work of young-adult fiction to be published by the University of Minnesota Press, the result of a happy mistake. Casanova intended to send the manuscript to the Minnesota Historical Society after being turned away by larger publishing houses, but it ended up in the hands of a University of Minnesota Press agent who is well versed in Minnesota history.
The book is based on a true story about a prostitute that happened in Koochiching County. It captured Casanova’s attention when she read about the incident years ago, and she decided at long last to construct a novel around it.
The book covers a lot of territory in the way of national events of the time (prohibition and women ‘s rights), the environmental movement (one of the characters is based on the real-life Ernest Oberholtzer, a conservationist who advocated for the preservation of the Quetico-Superior region), and period details of the region, but it is all interwoven in such a way that Sadie Rose’s story is not overwhelmed.
Older teens who were introduced to Casanova through her fiction for younger readers will enjoy this unique coming-of-age story. For ages 15+.