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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling 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 16 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.

©2021 Melanie Benjamin (P)2021 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Children's Blizzard

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Homesteaders

An adventure thriller like no other on January 12,1888 when a blizzard struck the prairie
And hundreds especially children were killed!
The author does a great job of describing the storm and its affects on the homesteaders struggling to cope!

1 person found this helpful

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Mesmerizing

This author, Melanie Benjamin, allows the reader/listener to relax and ease into the lives of the people who lived on the prairies and to witness the fate that would befall them all.There will come a point in the book where you will sit on the edge of your seat and visualize the horrific circumstances and details of that fateful day.
Based on a true event that happened, Benjamin takes us through each life in a manner that exposes the underlying hearts and motives of the horrific blizzard that unexpectedly blew in that day. You will witness the devastating realities of everyday life and come to see how some could also see and enjoy the beauty of it. Choices and outcomes, are displayed in such a manner that leaves the reader mesmerized by the wonder if it all.

1 person found this helpful

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Has good intentions

I really wanted to love this book but I kept getting confused with who was a sister, etc!!! Maybe because it didn’t hold my interest so I wasn’t paying attention???!!! Maybe that’s it !!! Narration was perfect!!!

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Heart wrenching

Absolutely heart wrenching and heart breaking. You want so much for all the characters and you know it doesn’t always happen. I didn’t want it to end.

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Fascinating

It is hard to believe that some thing so tragic in our history has been lost. For I for one have never heard of this Tragic happening. The children’s blizzard is a tail mostly made up but based on true stories of actual events. For those who like to read about history this is a very good book.

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Took a couple chapters to get interesting but good story

This book introduced a lot of characters. A new one in each chapter, that later would intertwine with one another. Initially I was lost and didn’t know who was who, but the book came together well and I enjoyed the story. I’d never heard of the Children’s Blizzard and I love anything that sparks of historical. The reader was great. She performed all the voices well and with enthusiasm. I’m glad I purchased this book even though I was unfamiliar with the subject matter.

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Change of perspective

If you’ve read this author previously, you know that those books have focused on real people ( Anne Lindbergh, the real Alice in Wonderland, Mary Pickford, etc). This book switches that perspective, and explores a real event, a catastrophic blizzard in 1887, and imagines its impact on fictional characters. It mostly works, but to make a weather event the “star” character isn’t quite as compelling as real-life people IMHO.

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Little house on the Prairie time period

I loved it. Learned a lot about homesteading and this time in America. Didn’t realize the Scandinavian influence on the Midwest.