October 07, 2011
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This particular book involves a very long winter in the town of DeSmet where they had settled. Laura is about fourteen and a big help to her family. When the family can tell that it will be a rough winter, and an Indian fortells seven months of snow and blizzards, Pa decides to move the family to town in his empty store building to wait out the winter. It turns out to be just as well because even in town, where all the supplies are, the winter proves to be too much for the townspeople to handle. Resorting to twisting hay for firewood the Ingalls do all they can to survive. However, since the trains can't get through food starts to become scare and the townspeople begin to starve. Their only hope now is that Almanzo Wilder (Laura's future husband) and a schoolmate of hers can make it in search of some elusive wheat that a homesteader has before there's no food left at all in the town.
The characters in this, and I say characters because they are somewhat embellished by Wilder, are pretty wonderful. They all have their unique attributes although some don't get a lot of time dedicated to them in the book (like Grace, Laura's youngest sister). I do have to say that I'm disappointed that in all her books she never mentions her brother who died as a baby. Its like he vanished. It was also nice to see Almanzo Wilder in this. He did appear briefly in the last book and of course Farmer Boy was all about him, but this book really marks the start of where he starts interacting with Laura's family.
Wilder writes very well for children. The language is easy to understand, as are the descriptions. She really makes her life vivid through her words and although things are much much different now, it is easy to picture how she lived. There are a couple of things that could be found offensive in this book. Ma does not like Indians, and doesn't have a problem voicing her opinions. Almanzo also makes a comment that could be potentially offensive as well. Regardless though, it is still worth the read.
Its such a charming series and I always enjoy reading it at least once a year. This book in particular interested me just because of all the hardship they go through. Its amazing how they kept it together and survived (even cheerfully if the book is to be believed) despite all the odds against them. I highly recommend this book and the series for all ages.
The Long Winter