Published: 2021 Genre: Historical fiction 1. First lines: The air was on fire. 2. Cover Penguin Random House 3. Wintry trees [Public Domain] via Pixabay 4. Scenes and Incidents from the Recent Terrible Blizzard in Dakota, By Frank Leslie’s Weekly, January 28, 1888 [Public Domain] via Wikimedia
Based on real events, this book is about a severe blizzard that caused many deaths, including children, in Dakota County in 1888. This story focuses on two sisters – teachers in different schools – and their experiences when the blizzard hit, and its aftermath.
Glanceabook: “This is an enjoyable read, and the historical events it’s based on are very interesting. The event itself doesn’t take up the majority of the story, which is more about the lives of the two schoolteachers, the plight of the homesteaders, and various social issues (status of women, racism, settlement of the West). I felt more could have been made of the experiences of everyone (not just the children) on the day of the blizzard.”
Publishers Weekly: “The narrative revolves largely around northern European settlers to the region, and the attempts to incorporate the experiences of Sioux people feel somewhat forced. Nevertheless, there’s great suspense inherent to the events. Benjamin achieves a balance of grand drama and devastatingly intimate moments.
“For the first time, she understood that conversations didn’t always bring about resolution. That people – all people – carried around inside them notions and thoughts and sadness that could not be alleviated simply by talking about them.”
“But those who experienced the storm would never forget it; they would pass the stories down from one generation to the next, and they wouldn’t embellish them because they didn’t need to.”
“Of course, every man there recognized that it would be beneficial to know what the weather was going to be like from day to day. But out here on the plains, weather didn’t cooperate like it did in the East, where you could look up at the sky, lick a finger and hold it up to the wind, sniff the air, and plan your day. Here, the weather might blow down straight from the Arctic Circle or roar up from the Gulf of Mexico or march in steadily from the Pacific, and sometimes it did all three at once.”
Author: Melanie Benjamin