Whiter than Snow
by Sandra Dallas

St. Martin's Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-312-60015-0.
Reviewed by Mary Jo Doig
Posted on 07/08/2010

Fiction: Historical

Imagine that you live in a tiny hamlet named Swandyke at the base of a huge mountain, Jubilee Mountain, in Colorado. It is a spring day in 1920 and soon your young child will be dismissed from school and walk home with the other children.

The community of Swandyke is much like any other community in that many residents have lived there all their lives, married other community members, and started their own families. Other residents have moved there from faraway places and have secret reasons for starting over in a new town. Each family has a fascinating story and each has, as well, a significant human problem, such as the two sisters who have not spoken to each other for years following a heart-wrenching event in their younger lives.

On this particular day, as Whiter than Snow opens, tragedy is about to strike seven of these families. Now, once again, connect with your imagination and see yourself preparing for your child's return home from school this day. Suddenly your phone rings and, as you say hello to your neighbor, your heart freezes as she gasps that an avalanche has broken away from the peak of Jubilee Mountain and barreled down the mountain, smothering everything in its path. The small schoolhouse that your child attends sits at the base of the mountain and school had just dismissed as the avalanche broke away. The children were directly in the path and have been covered by tons of snow. Your child is beneath that snow.

You and all the other families rush to the avalanche site and begin frantically digging through the snow. What follows in the ensuing hours and days is beautifully detailed in this carefully crafted story, showing what can happen when fate, chance, and divine order collide in an instant of tragedy and bring a community together.

Sandra Dallas is the New York Times bestselling author of Prayers for Sale. She is a journalism graduate of the University of Denver, worked as a staff member of Business Week for 25 years, and was the first female bureau chief, covering the Rocky Mountain region. While a reporter, she began writing the first of ten non-fiction novels and has, since 1990, published eight fiction novels. She is the recipient of the Women Writing the West Willa Award, a finalist for numerous other awards, and is known as "a quintessential American voice and writer of exquisite historical detail." The mother of two daughters, Sandra Dallas lives in Denver with her husband, Bob. Visit her website.

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