Rachel Crooks's Reviews > Snow Mountain Passage

Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston
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's review
Jan 09, 2010

it was ok
Read in January, 2010

I was drawn to this book because it is a fictionalized account of the Donner Party, and I think the history of Westward expansion is fascinating.

Houston alternates between telling the story of the mountain-bound Donner Party in the "Trail Notes of Patty Reed", and narrating the tale of Patty's father, Jim Reed, who was initially expelled from the wagon party for killing a man, and who later returned from California to rescue his family and those they traveled with.

I found myself skipping over the long chapters that focused on Jim Reed's travels back to his family, looking for the less-frequent but far more interesting Trail Notes excerpts. Who really cares what small adventures Jim Reed faced compared to the haunting experiences of those in the Donner Party? I can understand Houston's desire to explore the intriguing character of Jim Reed, but his story still couldn't possibly compete with that of the Donner party.

This book was thought-provoking, articulating quite well the joys and difficulties of living with others. The Reed family faced enormous trials on their way to California. The head-strong mistakes Jim Reed made on the journey West were paid for dearly by his wife and children; yet, in the end, it was the same headstrong nature that drew him to return in very difficult conditions to rescue them. This is an inspiring tale of courage and perseverance.


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