>> Friday, July 9, 2010
Whiter than Snow by Sandra Dallas
Publication Date: 2010
Source: Copy provided by publicist/publisher
The Short Version:
Interesting historical fiction about the families in a Colorado mining town who are affected by a devastating avalanche in 1920.
Why I Read It:
I’d read a couple of Sandra Dallas’s earlier books several years ago and remembered them to be enjoyable reads, so when I was offered a copy of her latest book I decided to give it a try.
On an April afternoon in 1920 an avalanche races down the mountainside in the remote mountain mining town of Swandyke. Nine children walking home from school are buried in the snow and only some of them survive.
The middle and main portion of the book takes a step back from both the avalanche story and the present time to tell the history of the families of the children involved. Each chapter is the story of a different parent or guardian who will soon be wondering if their child is alive. Lucy and Dolly are sisters who grew up in Swandyke, but haven’t spoken in years. Joe Cobb came to Swandyke with his daughter because life as a black man there is better than in the South. Grace Foote grew up privileged and married in haste to run from scandal. Minder Evans carries his memories of the Civil War and tries to raise his grandson as best as he can. Esther Schnable is a local prostitute who keeps the fact that her daughter is being raised by a friend in Swandyke a secret from everyone.
The tragedy brings about change, forgiveness, loss, hope, and love for everyone in town.
Since by the end of the first chapter I knew how many of the endangered children survived it was clear that several of the people I read about in the middle of the book would be faced with devastating news in the final chapters.
As I read each chapter I found myself thinking please let this person’s child or children survive. The stories of how they all came to be in Swandyke and have their lives and their children’s lives intertwined are interesting and both sad and hopeful along the way.
It’s a fairly short book, so none of the multiple plots are extensively developed, but it reads more like related short stories with the avalanche and its aftermath bringing them together and finally connecting them.
It’s a bit predictable at times with each of the main characters managing to face their past and either forgive, reveal, let go or find peace as I expected from this author.
Although not the type of book I read a lot of, it was a nice change of pace and an interesting story