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Thaw by Monica M. Roe

December 22, 2008

cover of Thaw by Monica RoeJust one month ago, Dane Rafferty was the best skier on his high school skiing team. He was smart, dating a great girl, then all of a sudden, paralyzed by Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Dane has heard the doctors talking and knows there’s a good chance he’ll recover. Actually, forget the 75% chance the doctors are quoting—Dane truly believes he’ll recover completely in just a month or two. After all, nothing has ever stopped him before.

I’ll be honest here: Dane is the most obnoxious, unlikable protagonist I’ve read about this year. He was also one of the most compelling characters I’ve read about this year. Maybe it sounds callous, saying I found a guy who used to be active and athletic but is now paralyzed to be obnoxious and unlikable. But, seriously, the guy’s a jerk, and you can’t blame the stress of falling ill or working hard in therapy for it. Most of the book is set in Florida, at the rehabilitation hospital Dane is convalescing at, but Roe devotes several chapters to Dane’s pre-GBS life, and he was just as arrogant, selfish, and self-centered then as he is in Florida. (I’d actually prefer to call him something else, but I’m not sure it’s allowed here at Guys Lit Wire.)

Liking a character and finding him compelling, caring about what happens to him in one way or another, are completely different things. Dane could be Exhibit A highlighting this difference. But I can’t imagine Thaw working if Dane was depicted a nice guy. It would be too easy to pity him, to wish all of his problems would magically be resolved. As it is, Monica M. Roe has created a believably annoying, aggravating narrator in Dane, and the progress he makes—both physically and in terms of his personality—feel earned.

Thaw is a Cybils YA Fiction nominee and has also been reviewed by Abby, Amanda, Becky, and Leila. Chalk this one up as another book I never would have picked up if it hadn’t been nominated but am glad I read.

[cross-posted at Guys Lit Wire]

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete Haskins permalink
    October 29, 2009 11:24 am

    Hey Monica I’m a High School Sophmore from wisconsin and far from the reading type. i focus more on sports and girls, I never really was to much into books but yours i couldnt put down. you really need to make a second book about him and what happens after. like with him and elise. or what happens to carissa if they ever talk again. or even if he skis or walks again. or what happend with his friend and ellis plz write another book.
    Sincerly Pete

  2. Monica Roe permalink
    November 2, 2009 5:04 pm


    Thank you for your note–it was great to hear from you and I’m really glad that you enjoyed the book. I’m actually in the middle of writing another one, which may answer at least a few of your questions.

    Just out of curiosity, what do you think should happen to everyone?

    Thanks again,


  3. Jessica permalink
    March 27, 2012 5:20 pm

    Hey Monica, I am a high school senior. I just finished reading Thaw about 15 minutes ago. I couldn’t help but to look up more information on you and the book. I really found Dane to be someone who I understood and the book seems to give me a sort of inspirational feel. I have recently started going to the library in the mornings with my best friend and I just happened to see the book on the shelf. Something about it called out to me and I thought “I must read this.” It really is a great book and I’m grateful for ever running across it. I am really curious about Dane’s outcome and if he ever fully recovers.

    • Monica Roe permalink
      March 28, 2012 4:59 pm


      Thanks for your message and I’m really glad that you enjoyed the book. Dane certainly wasn’t a very user-friendly character, but that did make him fun to write about.

      Out of curiosity, what was it about him that you found easy to understand or identify with? Do you think that he deserves to get another chance with Elise?



      • Jessica permalink
        April 2, 2012 2:14 am

        Hey Monica. Thank you so much for replying to my comment!
        I think Dane was easy to understand because I can understand his frustration with people who don’t have the same level of talent as him. I also think he is a fun character with many entertaining thoughts.
        I’m not sure whether or not he deserves another chance with Elise. I think it sounded like they would be perfect friends for one another and they understood each other more than others, but I can’t decide if it would be better for them to get together. I do think that Dane and Elise should end things properly, instead of Elise running away from him without giving him any chance. For me it almost seemed like he liked Elise because she was a friend who understood him and seemed to tolerate his personality the most.
        Thank you for asking my opinion,


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