When Winter Comes

V.A. Shannon. Kensington, $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-1650-7
Shannon’s harrowing debut brings humanity and empathy to the story of the Donner Party, a group of pioneers who set out from Independence, Mo., for California in 1846, and were snowbound and forced to resort to cannibalism. It’s been 13 years since Mrs. Jacob Klein ran away from her abusive family in Cincinnati at age 15 and joined up with the doomed wagon train bound for California. One of the survivors, Mrs. Klein, is now a schoolteacher married with three daughters, but she’s never shared her story with her husband, Jacob. Incensed by sensationalist accounts, she uses her journal to tell the tale of her time as a helper to the much-vilified Kesebergs, the bonds she formed while on the trail, and the horror of finding themselves stranded in a snowy mountain pass with dwindling food supplies. The narrative alternates between Mrs. Klein’s journal entries and her life as a wife and mother in California on the cusp of the Civil War. Shannon’s absorbing, exhaustively researched (and fictionalized) account movingly captures the hope and fellowship of the families in the early days of the journey, making their grueling starvation and grim choices even more tragic. Shannon does not resort to salaciousness or gratuity, detailing only what is necessary to illustrate the events of this enduring and heartbreaking tale of survival. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 10/30/2018
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5385-5591-0
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-9825-7420-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-5385-5593-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-5385-5592-7
Library Binding - 515 pages - 978-1-4328-5486-7
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