Cover image for Blizzard's wake
Blizzard's wake
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002.
Physical Description:
212 pages ; 22 cm
In March of 1941, when a severe blizzard suddenly hits Bismarck, North Dakota, a girl trying to save her stranded father and brother inadvertently helps the man who killed her mother four years before.
Reading Level:
910 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.9 8.0 63020.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 13 Quiz: 32027 Guided reading level: X.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Ever since fifteen-year-old Kate Sterling's mother died four years ago, nothing has been the same. Filled with resentment and sadness, and trying to fill the void left by her mother, Kate has shut herself off from the world and her family.
Zeke Dexter is heading home to begin a new life after completing his prison term, but he is filled with anxiety. Will anyone in his small town be able to forget his shameful past -- or the crime he committed -- and let him start anew? And if he's not welcomed at home, where else could he go?
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor weaves a taut, gripping story about grief, determination, and healing as the lives of the Sterling family and Zeke Dexter bind together. Set against the actual events of the March 1941 blizzard, Naylor's touching new period novel will be welcomed by her many fans.

Author Notes

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was born in Anderson, Indiana on January 4, 1933. She received a bachelor's degree from American University in 1963. Her first children's book, The Galloping Goat and Other Stories, was published in 1965. She has written more than 135 children and young adult books including Witch's Sister, The Witch Returns, The Bodies in the Bessledorf Hotel, A String of Chances, The Keeper, Walker's Crossing, Bernie Magruder and the Bats in the Belfry, Please Do Feed the Bears, and The Agony of Alice, which was the first book in the Alice series. She has received several awards including the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Night Cry and the Newberry Award for Shiloh.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. After serving four years in prison for accidentally killing 15-year-old Kate Sterling's mother, Zeke Dexter is released. That same day, a blizzard descends on Grand Forks, trapping Zeke outside and Kate's father and brother in a car a mile from home. Zeke stumbles upon the car and the Sterlings take him in. Luckily Kate finds them and leads everyone to the house. It's then that she must confront her hatred for Zeke, whom she has sworn to kill. Will she act on her anger or find it in her heart to forgive him? Kate's hatred is convincingly depicted, but the story isn't entirely credible: Kate's father, a model of human compassion, is certainly too good to be true; the stranded car seems to be a bottomless pit of materials to keep the passengers warm; and the ultimate resolution comes too easily after the buildup of emotions. Despite the problems, though, there's still plenty of tension and suspense in the story, which illuminates the struggle to forgive the unforgivable. Naylor's fans will want this. --Ed Sullivan

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this taut novel set in 1941 North Dakota, Naylor (Shiloh; the Alice books) brings together a number of freak occurrences-and joins them so skillfully that her story pulses with drama. Separate narrative strands introduce Kate Sterling, a teenager still mourning the death of her mother, Ann, four years earlier, and Zeke Dexter, the drunk driver who killed Ann Sterling and who has just been released from prison a year early, for good behavior. Naylor creates a highly charged atmosphere right from the beginning, as Kate feigns an interest in high school life while secretly consumed with hatred for Zeke. When an unusually severe blizzard strikes (the storm is historical), Kate, alone at home and realizing that her father, a country doctor, and younger brother are stranded just yards away in an unheated car, resourcefully plans a rescue. Meanwhile, Zeke, lost in the blinding snowfall, has stumbled, frost-bitten, into the Sterlings' car and is being tended by Doc Sterling. Kate, who has long fantasized about making Zeke suffer, is shocked. Naylor doesn't shy away from Kate's darkest feelings (assisting her father in a makeshift operation, for example, Kate administers Zeke's ether and must resist her urge to give him too much-or too little). As unlikely as the plot sounds, the believability of the characters and the complexity of their emotions give the novel psychological truth and strong resonance to its protagonists' slow movement toward forgiveness. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Another winner from Naylor. After four years, Kate Sterling, 15, is still mourning her mother's accidental death caused by Zeke Dexter's drunk driving. She is so inconsolable that she becomes increasingly withdrawn and isolates herself from her peers. Chapters alternate between Kate's and Zeke's voices. As he returns to town after serving his prison sentence, a deadly snowstorm is approaching; simultaneously, Kate's father and brother are returning from visiting one of her dad's patients. They become stranded in the car, and she is able to rescue them before they freeze to death. Unknown to her, she is also saving Zeke, the person she hates most. The succeeding events detail her courage in dealing with her grief and with the presence of the man who killed her mother as he is given refuge in her home. The story takes place in a small, North Dakota town during the famous blizzard of March, 1941. Naylor uses dramatic but accurate details to describe the fury of the storm as well as the prewar period, thus enriching the sense of time and place. An exciting survival story interwoven with one individual's personal struggle to overcome hatred and learn to forgive.-Susan Cooley, formerly at Tower Hill School, Wilmington, DE (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.