Yes, the Donner Party. Most of us know very little about these individuals who set out for the Western territories and a better life in the 1840s – a brief mention in a long ago Social Studies grade school class led to not so colorful jokes and opinions about them. However, there is much more to the story. Unlike thousands of others who had the same dream, and made it to their final destination, the Donner Party had many setbacks. Doomed from the start, the Donner Party faced bad advice, bad timing, bad supplies, leaving them in complete isolation in a blizzard. Unequipped for the challenges ahead, the Donner Party faced the ultimate question…how can one survive in the wilderness with no resources? And, to the readers, what would you do in the same situation?
Brown, author of the recent bestseller “Boys in the Boat,” takes readers on the Donner Party’s journey. Along the way, readers learn about the social mores and customs of nineteenth-century America. Brown bases this narrative nonfiction on the diaries of one of the Donner Party survivors, Sarah Graves. Graves’ harrowing account of misadventures, devastation, starvation and complete isolation leave a haunting impression on the trials and tribulations of her family and the rest of the Donner Party. Brown also discusses survival in horrific conditions – how much one can endure before the entire body starts to shut down (for example the differences between hypothermia and hyperthermia).
Kirkus Reviews says, “A skillful, suspenseful study of the Donner Party. …Brown creates a thorough and unique narrative. A moving man-against-nature tragedy that still resonates today.” The Seattle Times raves, “Remarkable…Hard to put down.” Personally, I found this an engrossing, beautifully written book that will remain in readers’ minds well after the last page is read. This is the perfect book to truly understand the plight and the tragedy surrounding the Donner Party.
Copies of the book are available now at all Adams County Library locations – in regular print, large print and audiobook formats. Any library location can also place a copy on hold for you – just ask! eBook copies and eAudiobook copies are also available through Cloud Library and OneClickDigital, the eBook and eAudiobook programs found on the Adams County Library System website.
Programs related to “The Indifferent Stars Above” will take place in April. As in the past, each Adams County Library will host a book discussion, open to all community members; please feel free to stop by and talk about the book. Look for more information about the book discussions and programs in March.
This book was selected by the Adams County Reads One Book Selection Committee. The committee is busily selecting the Fiction Selection, to be announced in July. If you have a suggestion for book titles for future One Book programs, please let us know! Stop by any Adams County Library location to share your ideas. Happy reading!
Submitted by, Jessica Laganosky, Public Services Librarian, Adams County Library System