Mary Casanova

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A young woman’s struggle to speak for herself—no matter the risks—from critically acclaimed and award-winning author Mary Casanova

Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn’t spoken in eleven years—ever since she was found in a snowbank the night her mother died under strange circumstances. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the power of family and memory and the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way, but is determined to find it again.

"Mary Casanova knows the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota as few other writers do, and she brings them to life along with an intriguing mystery set in that region’s dark past."
—Marion Dane Bauer, author of On My Honor

Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn’t said a word in eleven years—ever since the day she was found lying in a snowbank during a howling storm. Like her voice, her memories of her mother and what happened that night were frozen.

Set during the roaring 1920s in the beautiful, wild area on Rainy Lake where Minnesota meets Canada, Frozen tells the intriguing story of Sadie Rose, whose mother died under strange circumstances the same night that Sadie Rose was found, unable to speak, in a snowbank. Sadie Rose doesn’t know her last name and has only fleeting memories of her mother—and the conflicting knowledge that her mother had worked in a brothel. Taken in as a foster child by a corrupt senator, Sadie Rose spends every summer along the shores of Rainy Lake, where her silence is both a prison and a sanctuary.

One day, Sadie Rose stumbles on a half-dozen faded, scandalous photographs—pictures, she realizes, of her mother. They release a flood of puzzling memories, and these wisps of the past send her at last into the heart of her own life’s great mystery: who was her mother, and how did she die? Why did her mother work in a brothel—did she have a choice? What really happened that night when a five-year-old girl was found shivering in a snowbank, her voice and identity abruptly shattered?

Sadie Rose’s search for her personal truth is laid against a swirling historical drama—a time of prohibition and women winning the right to vote, political corruption, and a fevered fight over the area’s wilderness between a charismatic, unyielding, powerful industrialist and a quiet man battling to save the wide, wild forests and waters of northernmost Minnesota. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the haves and the have-nots, to the power of family and memory, and to the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way—but is utterly determined to find it again.

Mary Casanova is the author of twenty-nine books for young readers, ranging from picture books such as The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town and Utterly Otterly Night to novels (The Klipfish Code, Moose Tracks, and RIOT). She has written Jess, Chrissa, Chrissa Stands Strong (which is also an HBO movie), McKenna, and McKenna, Ready to Fly! (a Universal Studios movie) for American Girl.
Her books are on many state reading lists and have earned the American Library Association Notable Award, Aesop Accolades from the American Folklore Society, Parent’s Choice Gold Award, Booklist Editor’s Choice, as well as two Minnesota Book Awards. She speaks frequently around the country at readings and library conferences.
She lives with her husband and three dogs in a turn-of-the-century house in Ranier, Minnesota, near the Canadian border.

Mary Casanova knows the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota as few other writers do, and she brings them to life along with an intriguing mystery set in that region’s dark past.

Marion Dane Bauer, author of On My Honor

Mary Casanova’s novel is a gripping blend of history, family secrets, danger, and love—set within the breathtaking landscape of northern Minnesota in the 1920s. Readers will be drawn to the gutsy character of sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose as she tries to break her silence and unravel the mysteries of her dark past. A page-turner from start to finish!

Shelley Pearsall, author of Trouble Don’t Last

Compelling and believable.

Kirkus Reviews

Suspenseful . . . Casanova creates a strong sense of place and ably establishes her story's historical context. The narrative confronts weighty issues including prostitution, mental illness, and political corruption . . . readers should find Sadie Rose an admirable heroine as she finds her voice and her future.

Publishers Weekly

This tale of courage is beautifully crafted, bringing to life the lakes and forests of the Canadian border . . . these themes are all woven through a setting that drives its characters’ actions, while paralleling issues of today.


Fabulous book! My first from Mary Casanova but it will definitely not be my last.

My Seryniti, blog

A compelling story about finding your own power and knowing who you are.

Find Me In A Book, blog

This isn't just a story about a girl finding herself, it's also an opportunity to see the beginning of a great era.

Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile, blog

Frozen fed my historical fiction craving, and I learnt a little bit along the way too.

Aussie Zombie

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.

Duluth Budgeteer News

This would be a great book for teens making their first venture into historical fiction.

Perogies & Gyoza blog

Although this is a work of fiction, it’s a detailed look at the issues of the day, wrapped in a stirring mystery.

ABC Newspapers

Frozen has a smart heroine in Sadie Rose, who suspects there is more than one way to live. It’s also a portrait of politics, the battle between environmentalists and developers, Prohibition and the changing climate for women.

Duluth News-Tribune

A great story of self-discovery, family bonds, perceptions, and strength of character.


The research was clearly there and the world felt fully realized.

Lit Nerd Around the World, blog

The book is beautifully written and the premise is solid... Younger readers will find something very appealing about Sadie's rather rapid transformation - the identifiable nature of feeling the need to figure out who you are.

She Blinded Me With Library Science, blog

Casanova writes a story that readers won't be able to put down. They will also cheer and applaud this girl who grows up in a time when women are getting the right to vote.

Politics play a role throughout the book as readers learn about power, corruption, class inequality, the environment, and the strength of family ties. There is a budding romance, and some very interesting twists and turns throughout the book. This book does a wonderful job of depicting the time period.

School Library Journal

Perfect blend of historical events, young adult turmoil, and mystery.

Book Babe, blog

Frozen is an exceptional coming of age novel that allows the main character to discover the importance of finding your voice, and using it for good and not evil.

Big Muddy

Book group discussion guide


BOOK TRAILER featuring the Northern Minnesota places that appear in and inspired Frozen


UMP blog - Mary Casanova on digging up the past.

For two decades I’ve been haunted by an account in Hiram Drache’s Koochiching, about life in northern Minnesota in the early 1900s. A prostitute was found frozen one morning in the snow; as a joke, someone stood her body up in the corner at the start of a council meeting. This, allegedly, caused quite a stir.

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