A review by leahsbooks
The Children's Blizzard, by Melanie Benjamin

emotional sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


My aunt recently recommended this book to me, and I decided to pick up the audiobook. Cassandra Campbell did a great job as the narrator, bringing each of the characters to life. 

Part of what made this story so engrossing was the fact that it was based on actual events, a devastating blizzard in 1888. This follows the story of several different characters, building a narrative that I couldn't stop listening to, and one that will stick with me for a long time.

First, it describes the very different paths that two sisters take - Raina and Gerda Olsen, who are both schoolteachers in their teen years, working in different areas of the prairie. It also tracks Anette, a young girl with a difficult life, and Gavin, a repentant news reporter who wants to redeem himself after being exiled to the plains from New York and being forced to write propaganda luring people out to buy property in the largely unpopulated area. 

When the blizzard strikes out of nowhere on an unseasonably warm day, each of the main characters makes very different choices, which have unexpected consequences. I loved the way the story unfolded - we learn about backstories from each of the characters, so we understand their motivations and personalities. By the time the blizzard occurred, I was completely engrossed in the story and totally invested in the outcomes for each of the characters. 

I also enjoyed that the story didn't end immediately after the blizzard. In fact, about half the story continued, focusing on the aftermath of the blizzard. It wasn't an easy read, because it dealt with difficult subject matter (death, death of children, racism, discrimination against indigenous people), but it was incredibly interesting. This is one that made history fascinating.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings