Finished: July 30, 2010
First Published: Apr. 30, 2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: historical fiction, women's fiction
No one knew what triggered the Swandyke avalanche that began at exactly 4:10 P.M. on April 20, 1920.
Acquired: Received a review copy from the author's internet publicist.
Reason for Reading: I've always wanted to read a Sandra Dallas book and the plot of this one was particularly intriguing.
This is a beautiful story. It's what I call a light read. I picked the book up one evening and when it was time to turn out the light saw I had read three-quarters of the book. The story is simple and quite straight-forward but Dallas has written it in such a manner that the reader becomes emotionally involved in the characters by the time the already mentioned tragedy unfolds. She brings to her characters redemption, love, forgiveness and perhaps a look into God's mysterious way.
The story opens with an avalanche on top of a mountain in a tiny mining village and nine children coming home from school are caught in the slide. We are told four survived. Then each of the following chapters focuses on a child's or siblings' parents or in some cases parent. These historical vignettes can go as far back as the grandparents but most concentrate on the parent(s) and the one great or many small sins they have hidden in their lives. Each ends with the birth of the children or sometime in their early life. So we never really get to know the children, only through how they are thought of by others. Then comes a point when the story picks up with the avalanche and we watch the town come together to deal with the rescue and tragedy that is their fate.
The reader is in a position now to know how each family will react if it is their child(ren) that die and the reader is also vested in who could best handle the situation and perhaps who most needs redemption through the experience of death. Each person with a buried child has a reason to think they are being punished for their past sins and each also has reason to be forgiven. How it works out for the families in the end is very satisfying both for those who lost their children and those whose children lived. A beautiful story and a page-turner. I will certainly be adding Sandra Dallas to my list of authors to read.