The Children's Blizzard

The Children's Blizzard

A Novel

eBook - 2021
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife comes a story of courage on the prairie, inspired by the devastating storm that struck the Great Plains in 1888, threatening the lives of hundreds of immigrant homesteaders, especially schoolchildren. “Melanie Benjamin never fails to create compelling, unforgettable characters and place them against the backdrop of startling history.”—Lisa Wingate, author of The Book of Lost Friends The morning of January 12, 1888, was unusually mild, following a punishing cold spell. It was warm enough for the homesteaders of the Dakota Territory to venture out again, and for their children to return to school without their heavy coats—leaving them unprepared when disaster struck. At the hour when most prairie schools were letting out for the day, a terrifying, fast-moving blizzard blew in without warning. Schoolteachers as young as sixteen were suddenly faced with life and death decisions: Keep the children inside, to risk freezing to death when fuel ran out, or send them home, praying they wouldn’t get lost in the storm? Based on actual oral histories of survivors, this gripping novel follows the stories of Raina and Gerda Olsen, two sisters, both schoolteachers—one becomes a hero of the storm and the other finds herself ostracized in the aftermath. It’s also the story of Anette Pedersen, a servant girl whose miraculous survival serves as a turning point in her life and touches the heart of Gavin Woodson, a newspaperman seeking redemption. It was Woodson and others like him who wrote the embellished news stories that lured northern European immigrants across the sea to settle a pitiless land. Boosters needed them to settle territories into states, and they didn’t care what lies they told these families to get them there—or whose land it originally was. At its heart, this is a story of courage, of children forced to grow up too soon, tied to the land because of their parents’ choices. It is a story of love taking root in the hard prairie ground, and of families being torn asunder by a ferocious storm that is little remembered today—because so many of its victims were immigrants to this country.
Publisher: [S.l.]: Random House Publishing Group, 2021.
ISBN: 9780399182297
Characteristics: 384 p.
Additional Contributors: cloudLibrary

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LPL_LeahN Apr 03, 2021

This one is difficult for me to recommend because it is SO tragic. But I never regret reading books that teach me things, and from this I learned not only about the blizzard of 1888, but also about some of the ways European migrants were manipulated and outright lied to about the "Land of Opportunity" that awaited them on the plains.

This novel is really well written with compelling characters and a plot the chugs along even when part of you wishes the horror would just stop. Dismal but enlightening.

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Kidbean
Mar 17, 2021

Great story that describes life at the time in great detail. A bit lengthy.

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genepy
Mar 14, 2021

I recommend the audio , Cassandra Campbell is a fascinating narrator and a perfect match for this amazing and riveting story based on tragic historical facts.

IndyPL_LindsayH Mar 12, 2021

A Children`s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin is a harrowing historical novel that depicts the before, during, and after effect a severe blizzard had on the people that lived through it . It takes place in the Nebraska and Dakota Territory in the late 19th century. The people that suffered the most from the harsh impact of this blizzard were all children. Reading it will give you chills and realize how harsh and challenging life was on the prairie during that time period.

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Daisybates
Feb 08, 2021

Very compelling historical fiction about a blizzard that occurred in January, 1888 in Nebraska. 235 people died, mostly children attempting to find their way home from school in this devastating storm.

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BeckyR21
Feb 07, 2021

As I read this book on a cold and snowy weekend, I give thanks that I did not live during the homesteader era. Wow! What those hardy souls endured!
This is an excellent read. The first half of the book describes the blizzard - intense! The second half is not quite as gripping, but still a good read.

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tina43
Feb 01, 2021

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were fully developed, some extraordinary, ordinary people. The heroine was a young schoolteacher who cared deeply about the children. This book is well worth your time.
Tina43

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brangwinn
Jan 12, 2021

January 12, 1888 was a terrible day. Starting out it was mild and then disaster. As prairie schools were letting out a blizzard covered the land from the Dakota territory to Nebraska. Using oral histories of survivors, Melanie Benjamin (author of the AVIATOR’S WIFE) creates a story of two young sisters, teachers in one-room schools. Both girls survived, one becoming a hero, the other ostracized. Along with it is the story of a servant girl who was sold by her mother to a family, the story of a black man who ran a tavern in Omaha and the story of a newspaperman responsible for making the plains look so inviting to newcomers. It is the story of immigrants, those who believed the advertising about the life that awaited them on the American planes. The release date for the book is the anniversary of this blizzard. Well-written the story will make you glad you live in a warm house safe from the harsh environment.

ArapahoeAlyson Jan 11, 2021

I don't know what possessed me to pick this up to read as a break from pandemic/election stress; but I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed the characters and the portrait of their lives on the prairie in the 19th century. The author handles the most difficult parts of this tragedy with gentleness and never with melodrama.

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darladoodles
Dec 26, 2020

This new release from Melanie Benjamin almost reads like a thriller rather than historical fiction. There is no doubt that the blizzard itself is a major character. Three young ladies and one almost-a-has-been reporter are our principal points of view. Two are teachers and new school teachers: Raina and Gerda. Annette, the third girl, was sold to the couple who Raina boards with. She is just eleven and has already faced some adult realities. When the blizzard hits, the two sisters make different choices and it is fascinating to see how a domino effect ensues once the storm dies down. Annette's life is also changed due to newspaperman Gavin Woodson as he embarks on a quest to do some good and right past wrongs after the storm. He is in stark contrast to Anna Pedersen who adds to the thriller element considering her gun to be "an ally that would ask no questions. And tell no tales."
Benjamin gives us a strong sense of place and historical context as well as richly drawn characters. I can see book groups finding this to be strong contender for one of their choices in 2021.

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