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Book Review: The Children's Blizzard

The Children's Blizzard was written by Melanie Benjamin and published by Dell in 2021. You can purchase it on Amazon/Kindle and you can visit the author on Amazon and on social media.

January 12, 1888. The homesteaders of the Dakota Territory must have felt that spring was in the air. The dawn brought much warmer temperatures to the region after a brutal cold spell. The kids were sent off to school without their heavy winter coats and that proved to be a deadly decision for many families. As the schools were preparing to dismiss classes for the day a fast-moving blizzard slammed into the prairie without warning. Teachers, some no older than sixteen years old, were faced with life and death decisions. Do you keep the kids huddled together in their small one room schoolhouses, with limited fuel, or do they risk sending the children out into the storm, hoping that they could make it safely to their homes?

This story was based on a factual event that happened back then, taken from actual oral histories of the survivors of the blizzard of 1888. In this fictional account sisters Raina and Gerda Olsen, who were both teachers, are thrust into decisions that saw one being praised as a heroine and the other one was ridiculed for decisions that she made. A newspaper man, Gavin Woodson, is tasked with reporting on the blizzard but doing it in a way that didn't highlight the horror of the storm. The power elites in society were pushing for the pioneers and immigrants to populate the west and they didn't want any negative but factual newspaper story to fuel a retreat from the western territories. So, people like Gavin Woodson embellished his stories, even when he saw the hardships that were occurring during and after the storm. Gavin has his heart strings pulled by a young girl who survived the storm.

The story chronicles the struggles the children met during the storm and horrible aftermath and the suffering and death that impacted all of the families.

Learning what it must have been like to live on the open prairie during the 1800s and to deal with such a monster blizzard that pounced on all of those families during that time was heart wrenching. But- this is a story that we should never forget. These were our ancestors and their lives, and their hardships should be heard. This is a must read!

I give The Children's Blizzard 5 out of 5 stars.

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