Narrated by Laci Morgan
I picked this book up because I wanted to try something new. I did not know much about the history of the travels and trials of the ‘settlers’ who moved to the west coast through the breadth of the continent of the now United States.
The blurb is very accurate in painting this as an in-depth work. The book follows the Donner party, a group of people with their families and caravans who fall in together to form an alliance in order to more safely traverse the thousands of miles between the two coasts.
There is an interesting examination of what individuals deem important when things start to look bad and how with deepening crises, even those lines start to shift.
Our narrator is Ada Weeks, a girl who finds herself orphaned at the very beginning of the journey. This, it turns out, is not the first time she has found herself in this situation, but that comes later during the narrative. It is an excruciating journey, and we are given a graphic description of every indignity, heartache and physical trauma that they all face as a unit and as individuals during the almost failed trek. I have driven by car for approximately that same distance in the US and was caught in a flash flood in a desert area which was momentarily stunning(and equally scary). I can therefore imagine (at least sort of) how harsh travel would have been for the European settlers (and newbie Americans).
That said, this was a slow listen for me. I could not hear it play continuously because of the details and the general gloom of the situation. There is a lull in the middle that takes off again towards the ending, making me like the overall book. Parts of the lingo, in the beginning, seemed anachronistic and had me googling certain words, which, to my surprise, turned out to be older than I thought. The narrator also took some time to get used to, she did a brilliant job voicing the frustration of the mostly stable Ada Weeks, but it took me a while before I ‘took’ to it.
I think it would appeal to people who like more detail to their stories and are fans of historical fiction in general.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.