All We Left Behind: Virginia Reed and the Donner Party

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Having not read about the story of the Donner party since I was a little girl, this book, All We Left Behind: Virginia Reed and the Donner Party will quickly pull readers deep into the immensely well-written story, requiring the book be read in one sitting. This book provides readers with a unique perspective of the hardships incurred by the many families who gave up everything they had known living their secure lives on the East coast and the further sacrifice endured on their perilous journey to this new land out West that they knew very little about. The struggle was real, the lives lost were many, and the detail to which author Nancy Herman places into both the characters and the environment truly brings forth deep emotions as you work your way through the chapters.

What starts out as a well-off family’s decision to head to California, where there is no disease and a wealth of opportunities, quickly turns into anyone’s worst nightmare, as told through the eyes of young thirteen-year-old Virginia Donner. Watching her father have to kill a man, her family members die around her, and day after day dealing with having less supplies and losing hope, Virginia’s story will pull on your emotions, as you watch her grow from innocent girl to matured women.

Herman did such an exquisite job with this storyline that she was capable of maintaining the plight, without the further horrors and sacrifices that the Donner party had made to stay alive. While the events they faced are important, and must not be forgotten, this is not a history book and, therefore, I commend her on the plausible adaptation.

Having a fourth grader who has extensively studied California history this year, including the travel of the Donner party, this book could be of great significance if placed in all fourth grade classrooms throughout California as part of the social studies curriculum. It is an easy enough read for this age group and provides a rich narrative for students to be easily engaged in. I highly recommend this book to all ages alike, no matter what your preferred genre is!

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Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 225 pages
Publisher South Fork Communications
Publish Date 15-Nov-2013
ISBN 9781490317793 Buy this Book
Issue August 2014
Category Historical Fiction


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