This is the story of a woman who remains nameless throughout the entirety of the story who struggles with losing her mother as a young girl. When she and her brother go to live with their grandmother, they each suffer from a profound sense of loss. Her older brother finally goes away to college in the south and she is left to care for her grandmother while working as a librarian. And then her grandmother passes away. Alone and cut off from the world, the protagonist follows her brother to Florida, getting a job on campus where he teaches. Life is nice and quiet for a while until one hazy, hot Florida day, the sky opens up and she is struck by lightning.
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Everything changes. The protagonist becomes the Ice Queen, feeling extremely cold all the time. It doesn't make sense until she discovers that there are others who have gone through similar experiences. She is led to a man that lives alone, isolated on a citrus farm. He himself is fire itself, able to boil water in a single breath. When the ice queen finds this stranger that is so similar yet so very different, she tries to make sense of what they have each gone through but at the very least, perhaps he will help her to live without fear.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the magical realism in this story. Hoffman blends realistic fiction with a world of magic. It is deeply sensual and scientific. This is such an unusual pairing.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when the ice queen and this man of fire make love. It seems like it would be cataclysmic but it is not. They are polar opposites and neither can find a mate that is not either burned up by or frozen by their touch. It is so interesting to think about how they each cancel each other out.
Opinion about the main character:
I disliked the fact that the main character did not have a name but on the bright side we are left with no other choice than referring to her as the Ice Queen and perhaps this was strategic on the author's part.