The Year of Ice
Brian Malloy

Griffin (St. Martin's Press)
October 3, 2003
Trade Paperback/272 pages
ISBN: 0-312-28948-0
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"Kevin struggles with his sexual identity . . ."

"The author handles the kind of serious life problems that face today's families with sensitivity and humor."

Amidst the rampant emotions and hormones of a young man verging on maturity in 1978 Minneapolis, Malloy’s protagonist, Kevin, still grieves for his mother who died two years earlier. Kevin struggles with his sexual identity, yearning for a romantic encounter with a handsome boy at school. Fearing exposure, he begins a cover relationship with a girl who wants more than “lip service.”


Kevin''s father forms an alliance with the boy to fend off persistent widows bearing gifts of food and companionship. But Dad still seems remote to Kevin. The two co-exist with little interaction. The delicate balance of their relationship is undermined by a bitter aunt, who blames her brother-in-law (the dad)for her sister''s death. She claims her sister’s traffic accident was, in fact, suicide because of the husband''s unfaithfulness. Beginning to believe his aunt, Kevin becomes increasingly distrustful and distant to his father, who denies he had an affair.


When Kevin learns the truth about his father’s dalliance, the youth lashes out in every direction to retaliate for his pain. The family bonds are strained by unvarnished truth. Alienation, confusion, and resentment follow.


The hope of the book is that maturity will bring perspective and tolerance of others’ faults. Youth, after all, must eventually learn to appreciate various viewpoints of the family dynamics.


The author handles the kind of serious life problems that face today''s families with sensitivity and humor. Kevin’s inner fears and dreams will ring true with the reader’s own memories of those tempestuous years.
Reviewer: Doris Lakey