For fans of Fredrik Backman's Bear Town and Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone, Last Winter is the story of a child who might not survive the heartbreak of her father’s death, and a mother who struggles to both parent and manage her grief in the grips of a Bipolar crisis.
Fiona and Gus’s marriage has veered off course. Fiona’s mental health is fragile at best, and is now further strained under the weight of a transgression that she would like to both forget and repeat. Gus is tired of Fiona’s distance, her ambivalence, and her seeming coldness towards their eight-year-old daughter, Ruby. Selectively mute, often slovenly and sometimes nearly feral, Ruby is not the daughter Fiona imagined for herself, perhaps because she never wanted to be a mother at all.
Everything changes on the day Gus takes Ruby’s class on an overnight trip to a wilderness cabin. On the way, several of the children become sick, so Gus sends Ruby ahead. But an avalanche crashes down, killing Gus and Ruby’s classmates.
Fiona crumbles under the ensuing media attention. She struggles with her conviction that Ruby would be better off without her, and with the desperation to leave their claustrophobic mountain town. Meanwhile, Ruby is determined to find her father’s body and makes a secret plan to find him before her mother takes her away. But after a terrifying and futile night on the mountain that leaves her nearly dead with hypothermia, she’s forced to accept that she will never see her father again.
While Ruby recovers, she and Fiona pack for the trip to England. But on the morning they’re meant to leave, Ruby wakes to discover that her mother has left without her.
Atmospheric with a finely-tuned gaze on small moments, Last Winter is a contemporary family drama that will grip readers until the shocking end.