Hillary Woody's Reviews > Whiter Than Snow

Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas
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Oct 11, 10

It’s hard to describe just how unfortunately not good this book is. “Unfortunately” because you would expect more from a New York Times best-selling author. And given the genuine praise Sandra Dallas’s other novels received for her ability to write historical fiction and her “terrific” (according to Publisher’s Weekly) characters, you would expect Whiter Than Snow to stand out in the same ways. On the contrary, these are the elements which failed this time around.

The story begins with a devastating avalanche in the small mountain town of Swandyke, CO. After spending the first chapter going into some detail about the avalanche, Dallas spends the next five chapters giving back story on each of the parents of the children trapped in the avalanche. “Back story” may or may not be a fair term given that there is little more to the story than these chapters. However these “back stories” describe how each of the characters ended up in Swandyke and how they came to have the conflicts that they have. More entertaining stories keep the back story to a minimum and focus instead on how the character resolves their conflict. And while Dallas’s method could work, it doesn’t, as she spends as much time telling the reader as showing him or her what happened before. The remaining two chapters tell what happen after the earthquake hit.

Dallas’s characters come across as clichéd and boring. There are three women, two of which are ahead of their time (as the novel is set in the early 1900’s) and desperately want to go to college against the wishes of their parents. The rest of the stories seem stereotypical as well. Imagine a black man, a civil war veteran, and a hooker at the turn of the last century and you will have pretty much nailed the remaining three characters’ back stories.

Not everything about Whiter Than Snow is bad. It has a good message about forgiveness and the idea that life will go on. Still, the novel could have been more impactful had Dallas really let us get to know the characters through dialogue and scene and spent more time in the “after” the avalanche than the “before.”
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