Oh, the tears that I cried while reading this one. So, spoiler alert, people die. Children, specifically. If you are squeamish about kids dying, this is probably not the book for you.
But if you have an interest in history and don’t mind sadness, this non fiction is well written and vivid.
The book follows the blizzard of 1888 and those caught up in the middle, be it the weather service, or farmers along the plain, or people on the railroad. The book begins outlining the history of certain immigrant families and why they were drawn to middle america. As a family history enthusiast, the family stories were reminiscent to stories from my own pioneer stock. I was particularly touched by Anna and Johann Kaufmann and their journey from the Ukraine to the US and the children they lost along the way. The entire time my heart was breaking for them because I thought, “Please don’t get attached to the kids you have left, a blizzard is coming.” Once we know some key players and how they intersect, we learn about the storm. The descriptions of what the storm were harrowing. Like Isaac’s Storm, the storm becomes its own character. I enjoyed the scientific descriptions of how the weather pattern emerged and what it looked like rolling across the plains.
This book is one not easily forgotten. For days afterward (even now months later!) it pops into my mind. I’ve already suggested it to various friends. The book was well written and well researched, not only presenting a snapshot of a specific event but following families and individuals in order to create a tangible living connection with those that are long since dead. It made me interested to read more from Laskin in the future.