Death on their way home or while huddled in their poorly insulated classrooms waiting for someone to rescue themBenjamin uses a cast of fictional characters to tell her story but many of the events and details she writes about are based on what she calls recorded history in her Author s Note Key characters include sixteen year old Raina and her eighteen year old sister Gerda both freshly minted schoolteachers who have moved away from home to run small schools attended by the children of farming families when those children are not needed at home as farmhands And children like Anette a little girl whose mother sold her to a farmer and his wife for a pig and a couple of chickens and Fredrik the little boy who falls madly in love with Anette even though all the other children prefer to shame her Most prominent among the adult characters are the Pedersens the couple who purchase Anette in order to exploit her free labor and Gavin Woodson the freelance newspaperman responsible for luring so many immigrants to Nebraska via the misleading ads and fake news stories he plants in newspapers all over northern Europe and America The Children s Blizzard recounts a nineteenth century American tragedy but this is a tragedy filled with heroines and heroes of all ages The biggest heroes are only children themselves including the schoolteachers forced to make life and death decisions about the dozen or so younger children entrusted to their care Some made the right decision some did not Either way those who endured and survived the blizzard would be marked by the experience for the rest of their lives The Children s Blizzard is a remarkable novel so don t miss it The Children s Blizzard was a horrifying event and Melanie Benjamin s new novel makes that abundantly clear It starts when the great storm does showing how uickly the blizzard veered from dangerous to deadly With chilling atmospheric description Benjamin sets the stage then shows the devastating aftermath All of this guarantees the reader s attention remains focused When the storm finishes about halfway through the book though the story doesn t seem to have anywhere to go which gives the tale a disjointed feel The ending offers a realistic conclusion but not a super satisfying one Character wise THE CHILDREN S BLIZZARD features an interesting cast of well drawn story people Benjamin s story people are well drawn Although many of them are unlikable all are complex and realistic I liked the three young women at the center of the novel best and would have liked spending time in their heads versus some of the other na THE CHILDREN S BLIZZARDBY MELANIE BENJAMINIn her new book Melanie Benjamin decided to use fictional character s that a couple of them are loosely based on surrounding a real factual event The book starts out rather slow highlighting all of the propaganda that was put out in Eastern newspaper s etc about how the prairie land surrounding the states out west such as Nebraska Minnesota Dakota territory then later Montana was rich farming land to lure many Europeans and poor people from Eastern cities The Homestead Act of 1862 signed into law by President Lincoln encouraged settlement Anybody who could afford to pay the small filing fee was given the opportunity to suddenly own 160 acres of land It would automatically become owned land to whomever lived on the land for five years in a home or structure This land proved to come at the expense of the Native American s who for thousands of years had roamed this land freely relocating Native American s to reservationsThe Blizzard that took place in 1888 started out an unusually warm day after a cold and frigid spell The teacher s and children for the most part didn t have their winter ackets or other cold weather clothing and weren t dressed or prepared for this blizzard In this fictional account two sister s were teaching and their vastly different decision s about what to do with the children has devastating conseuences for their community the children and themselves One will become a heroine and the other sister will become an outcastThe further I read the I enjoyed this narrative I think fans of historical fiction will enjoy this as well I would read by this author RecommendedPublication Date January 12 2021Thank you to Net Galley Melanie Benjamin and Random House Ballantine Publishing for providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review TheChildren sBlizzard MelanieBenjamin RandomHouseBallantinePublishing NetGalley Based on a little known blizzard that struck the Great Plains on January 12th 1888 The storm hit at precisely the wrong time here in northeastern Nebraska southeastern Dakota It hit right when most schools were about to disgorge its pupils for the day or ust had Gavin Woodson a newspaperman in Omaha writes for the state s boosters and railroad investors advertising Nebraska as the Garden of Eden something it was not To sell all these acres recently won from the Indians to rubes and immigrants who didn t know any better To settle this state grow the population and make the businessmen the investors the railroads happy And very rich January 1888 Nebraska When unexpected blizzard strikes dur. Ion It is Woodson and others like him who wrote the embellished news stories that lured immigrants across the sea to settle a pitiless land Boosters needed immigrants to settle territories into states and they didn't care what lies they told them to get them there or whose land it originally wasAt 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 count.
I am always excited to receive an ARC of a Melanie Benjamin book since she is the author that brought historical fiction novels into my life I have found every one of her books interesting and compelling than the last and The Children s Blizzard is no exception In fact I found it to be her best novel to dateBenjamin s writing pulls you into the book immediately with her sensationally described settings and well developed characters This book was difficult to read at times because of the horrendous situations it contained I found myself sobbing than once as I read and at times actually had to walk away from the book but with all that it is definitely her best written novel I would encourage everyone to pick up at least one Melanie Benjamin novels and I know when you are done you will be searching for another of her numerous stories If you have never read her books The Children s Blizzard is a great place to start Whenever I see a new book by Melanie Benjamin I immediately clear up my schedule ust to be able to have the time to read her book The Children s Blizzard lives up to everything I love about her books Based on the true harrowing account of the Blizzard in Nebraska in 1888 this book has characters that will be written into your heart for a long time Ms Benjamin has the incredible ability of bringing her characters to life like no other author Beautifully depicted flaws and all their humanity whether good or evil always shines through The characters in The Children s Blizzard are fictitious yet seem as if they truly lived This is a story about the Olsen sisters Gerda and Raina schoolteachers both and their students and what happens when suddenly the worst possible freezing snow storms hits their prairies during their time in school What happens to all of those little children This story is engrossing uplifting and heartbreaking all in one Thank you to Ms Benjamin for once again writing an incredible story of human frailties and to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the egalley Having read a few other books by Melanie Benjamin I was excited to read The Children s Blizzard which is a historical fiction account of the 1888 blizzard that hit Nebraska and Dakota The Time It Never Rained just as many children were being released from school and were caught unaware Adding to the tragedy was that January 12 1888 dawned sunny and warm after days of bitterly cold weather so many kids didn t even have their heavy coats Teachers of many one room schoolhouses were left to make the choice to keep the children at school or send them out to hopefully make it home before the storm got worse However this blizzard was so severe and blinding that many kids and even adults diedust yards away from their destination For some reason I expected the book to take place exclusively during the blizzard itself But the blizzard covers only about the first half of the book and the remainder tells of the repercussions of the choices that some of the characters made before and during the big storm It was a story well told but The Child of the Soul and Other Stories just a little different from what I was expectingMelanie Benjamin s writing is excellent especially as she gave the details of the setting describing the Great Plains as both a deadly force and a beautiful landscape Her descriptions of the storm made me feel it too The wind came at her from the left now her right punched her face with an icy blow hit the back of her head Her breathing was shallow rapid she didn t dare to breathe deeply lest she inhale the sticky snowI recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction and especially adults who loved the Little House series like a gritty version of The Long WinterThank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Random House Publishing Group for providing an advanced digital copy in exchange for my honest review I think I ve readust about every book and article on this event that I could find over the years This is the first fiction work and it is amazing It pretty much covers the horror the children and their teachers encountered when this unexpected blizzard hit them on what began as such a pleasantly warn day Such a nightmare for everyone who lived out on the prairie Just painful to read Melanie Benjamin has done Childrens Phantasies justice to the event It s well written and filled with memorable characters Most importantly it introduces the event to new readers who may not ever have heard about the deadly blizzardI received a Kindle arc from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review Come to Nebraska the Garden of Eden With promises of a better life people came in waves from across the seas and across the land toting what meager possessions they could manage their hearts filled with hope for a better life Some were farmers believing in the promise of land and better soil Some were fleeing lives where they were destined to die believing the pamphlets they had read believing the promises Some were hopeful for a life with fresher cleaner air fleeing confining cities with air that was choking the life out of them Someust believed in a dream None expected a nightmare The Dakota Territory formed in 1861 included what are now Nebraska Idaho Wyoming North Dakota and South Dakota By 1888 it was essentially Nebraska and The New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife reveals a little known story of courage on the prairie the freak blizzard that struck the Great Plains threatening the lives of hundreds of immigrant homesteaders especially their childrenThe morning of January 12 1888 was unusually mild following a long cold spell 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 ust the hour when most prairie schools were letting out for the day a terrifying fast moving blizzard struck with.
Orth and South Dakota the other territories having split off Families homesteaders settled into the area as uickly as they could some had been there long enough to begin raising a family and others came once the area had been settled enough to have a town shops businesses doctors schools This was basically a farming community however and even children worked the fields during the summer months although most were lucky enough to attend school during the remainder of the year January 12 1888 began with unseasonably warm weather for this area and was oyously welcomed as recently the weather had been bitterly cold for some time The settlers took advantage of the warmer weather to head into town while the children were in school happy to leave their heavier winter attire at home Without the modern conveniences of televisions radios cell phones or newspapers to check the weather they had no idea how uickly the weather would change And once they could see it for many it would prove to be too late As the blizzard was closing in on them school was still in session two sisters separated by distance both teaching their classes faced with decisions Their decisions will haunt them the rest of their lives and completely alter their lives One will be hailed for their heroic actions the other one shunned Both will be forever changed by this day But theirs are not the only stories worth reading here for Anette one of the young students has a story to tell as well While this is a fictional account this story is based on the lives and experiences of actual people and of their stories as well as the newspaper reporter who not only was responsible for the stories that attracted those immigrants to this land but their stories that follow the lives of those who fell victim to this blizzardPub Date 12 Jan 2021Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group Ballantine Delacorte Press TheChildrensBlizzard NetGalley I read this book as an ARC for NetGalley and found it truly fascinating The day started off balmy and everyone was so excited because winter seemed to be over but it was The Soviet Union just a trick that was played on homesteaders of the early years in America and were totally unprepared to survive this storm Many had come from the Scandinavian countries looking for opportunities and were used to the cold harshness of winter but no one was prepared for the catastrophe that happens this day Many people came to America and did not like living in the cities so when they were offered a chance to get their own land build there own dream and make something that could be passed from generation to generation they accepted Little did they know that the areas that were being offered would take it s toll on them physically mentally and emotionally Farms were hard to plow with rocky soil wood was not available for building so they lived in shanties carved out of the land food was not easily gotten and water was sparse They would experience horrible blizzards followed by rains and melting snow that would ruin their crops If they made it through that they had the bugs that descended during the hot dry windblown summers But no one was prepared for the ultimate blizzard that dropped immense amounts of snow in a record time burying everything in it s wake Farmers out with there herds and the herds were frozen in place some got lost going to their own barns and froze The crux of this story though is the fact that teachers had to decide what they would do with the children under their care and how their decisions would effect the rest of their lives Sad in many places but happy and content in others and a book that every teen and young person should read today to understand what hardship past generations have gone through to achieve what we have today I only even became aware of The Children s Blizzard because a book blogger whose posts I follow closely a few days ago put the novel on a list of books she is looking forward to reading soon I read a considerable amount of historical fiction and I m particularly fond of writers able to immerse me completely in the period being featured I discovered that Melanie Benjamin has that particular talent back in November 2011 when I read her The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb a novel that I lost myself in for several days So I m not particularly surprised by how much I like The Children s BlizzardThe Children s Blizzard is closely based upon a real life blizzard that struck parts of Nebraska and Dakota on January 12 1888 As it turned out the storm could not have arrived at a perfect moment than it did to claim a high death toll Bitterly cold weather and a blinding snowstorm struck the area on the afternoon of a day that had begun as the first break in below zero weather settlers had seen in days Children were excited to be back in school after such a long absence and most of them along with their teachers came to school wearing clothing barely adeuate even for the light freeze they expected to face on their walk home at the end of the day Even worse the storm system arrivedust as students were being dismissed ensuring that most of the blizzard s several hundred victims would be children who either froze to. Out 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 stormBased on actual oral histories of survivors the novel follows the stories of Raina and Gerda Olsen two sisters both schoolteachers one who becomes a hero of the storm and one who 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 redempt.
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Melanie Benjamin is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE and THE AVIATOR'S WIFE as well as the national bestseller ALICE I HAVE BEEN and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS TOM THUMB and THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE MISTRESS OF THE RITZ a captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance d