The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep
by Meredith Leigh Burton
I have always been fascinated by stories told from multiple perspectives. When the story is based on historical fact, the intriguing blend of truth and fiction is fascinating. Allan Wolf’s The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep: Voices from the Donner Party, is just such a masterpiece of historical fiction. Wolf relates the terrifying story of a group of immigrants in 1846-1847 who are traveling from Illinois to California. Deadly snow storms, unwise decisions and hubris result in a harrowing winter. Survival will force certain members of the party to make terrifying decisions, and no one will ever be the same.
The unique way in which Wolf relates this historical event is remarkable. Key members of the Donner Party speak as do lesser known individuals such as the Native American guides who assisted the travelers. Even a pair of oxen are allowed to speak. Hunger is a character, providing a commentary on the need for self-preservation. Hunger is the chief narrator and ruminates on the human condition; our ability to perform acts of unspeakable depravity as well as acts of epic heroism. Hope is a theme threaded throughout the book, so despite some horrific occurrences, the overall feeling while reading the story is one of assurance. Light will eventually triumph. Poetry and prose combine to create a true masterpiece of historical fiction.
If possible, I encourage everyone to procure the audio edition of this novel. Multiple narrators make it easy to keep track of the characters. Sound effects are also interspersed throughout the narrative but not to an over-abundant extent. The book was named one of the Top 10 Audio Books in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA, (Young Adult Library Services Association). For those who are interested in the true history of the Donner Party, Wolf provides a detailed and eye-opening historical note at the conclusion of the novel. For those who love stories that bring history vividly to life, The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep will take you on an unforgettable journey.
About the Author
Meredith is an author of young adult fantasy. Her recent release, Blind Beauty and Other Tales of Redemption, is an anthology of fairy tale retellings that seek to explore the familiar tales in unique ways. Most of her works feature disabled protagonists who are called upon to fight against evil. All her characters face difficult obstacles and must find strength to fight. Meredith hopes to show her readers that disabilities are really blessings, that we all have gifts and long to make a difference in the world. Buy her book Blind Beauty and Other Tales of Redemption on Amazon.