Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas isn’t one of her best, but I still enjoyed it. I’m game for most books that take place in the early 1900’s, in the mountains of Colorado. Dallas knows that time and place well (Prayers For Sale). Whiter Than Snow is a story of love, tragedy, forgiveness, despair, and resilience.
At 4:10 P.M. on April 20, 1920 something triggers an avalanche above the small mining town of Swandyke, Colorado, at the very moment children are walking home from school. Nine of those kids are swept up in the thundering snow. Four children survive. As Dallas introduces us to the nine possible victims, she takes us into the lives of each of their families. The author uses flashbacks, memories, and many divergent story lines. The story seems a little choppy. But, if we, as readers, can overlook that small flaw, Dallas keeps us wondering about who perishes and who survives. She allows us to witness how each family deals with this disaster, their loss, and their grief.
One of the reasons I liked this historical novel is that Sandra Dallas is a master of character development. We meet the seemingly snobby wife of the mine’s owner, an African-American ex-slave, two sisters who haven’t spoken to each other in years, a Jewish prostitute, and an old Civil War veteran. As diverse as these characters are, we see that they are similarly impacted by this random, devastating, tragedy.