This novel by Sandra Dallas is outstanding in several ways. Dallas uses the literary device of framing her story with the advent of a tragic avalanche.

On an April afternoon in 1920 in the mountains of Colorado, what the miners call a “slab avalanche” occurred. Nine small children, on their way home from school, were caught in the terrifying slide.

This is not a story within a story. It is six stories within a story. Dallas devotes a chapter to each of the children’s families. Five of the children are the off-spring of two sisters. Of the remaining four, one is the daughter of the town ’s only black man; one is the son of the mine manager; one is the near-orphan grandson of a Civil War veteran; and the final one is the daughter of one of the town whores. The chronicles are not about the children, but about their families.

Over several days, the author brings the families together as they share their common fears. They watch the recovery efforts as all the able-bodied men in town work around the clock, searching for the children. A few are rescued.

Finally, a mass funeral is organized and the frame of the novel draws to a close. Each family sees that none are without sin, that no one’s soul is whiter than snow and no one is without the need for forgiveness.

I was impressed with the author’s style and organization.

June Poucher (Mar.’11) adds; “This is one of the rare books that I will no doubt read again.”

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