The Children's Blizzard: A Novel

· Sold by Dell
9 reviews

About this ebook

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.

“A nail-biter . . . poignant, powerful, perfect.” —Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network

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.

Ratings and reviews

9 reviews
Maureen Timerman
December 22, 2020
The author gives us a story that resonates with us living in the snow belt, this story is about the “Children’s Blizzard”, and it is called that because the storm hit at the exact time the children were sent home from school for the day. We are given names, and and see through the eyes of the author the harsh conditions. We walk in their shoes as they frantically try to get to safety and warmth, and follow them as they make decisions for themselves and others that change their lives completely. We meet and follow several characters, and I did love how the author followed through and we moved on with their lives, however short or long. One thing that stood out was the newspaper articles, of course they wanted to sell papers, but as with today they made up things, and that is why today there is not an accurate count of how many lost their lives. Your heart is really going to go out to some of these people, and others, well, somehow they get their comeuppance, and we get to read it happen! What a tragic happening, but the author did a wonderful job of bring this book alive and characters very real! You don’t want to miss this one! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Ballantine, and was not required to give a positive review.
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Elizabeth Silver's Reviews (Silver's Reviews)
January 9, 2021
We meet two sisters who are teachers and a blizzard that is wreaking havoc on the Great Plains just as school is about to be let out. Raina and Gerda had to make the decision about letting the students run home or to keep them in the school. Either choice was made the right choice and one didn't. The decisions made by Raina and Gerda stayed with them and affected them for their entire lives. We follow the children, the teachers, the townspeople as the blizzard rages, as people become lost, as those at home are left worrying about their family members, and as everyone is hoping for the best. Once the blizzard was over, the true colors of the characters came out both good and bad. THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD is based on a true event that took lives and maimed many. It also is about families who were lured here on the pretense that they would have success, but we see they struggled through harsh winters and parched summers trying to eke out a living. The characters were marvelously developed and interesting with most being likable. I enjoyed learning their present and past stories. As you read, you will grow fond of the characters and also pity them for how they have to live, even though most are very strong and resilient. The book was a bit confusing at first with all the characters and some sections were wordy, but THE CHILDREN’S BLIZZARD is another of Ms. Benjamin's beautifully written, well-researched historical fiction. 4/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Ronita Ru
January 18, 2023
I couldn't put it down. It was so heart-rending to think of those poor children and their families, and those young schoolteachers..
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About the author

Melanie Benjamin is the New York Times bestselling author of The Children’s Blizzard, Mistress of the Ritz, The Girls in the Picture, The Swans of Fifth Avenue, The Aviator's Wife, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, and Alice I Have Been. Benjamin lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she is at work on her next historical novel.

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