The Ingalls family decide move to town because a hard winter is on its way in Dakota. Laura doesn’t want to go; it will mean school and she isn’t keen on on the idea of making new friends, but she soon settles down. Unfortunately, school doesn’t last. The blizzards come quickly. At one point the children are stuck in school, unable to go home. Supplies quickly run out in the store. So begins the story of the long winter, one of the harshest on record, and how it affects the Ingalls and their neighbours. School comes to an abrupt end. All the families in the town suffer hardships and as you read you become as frustrated and as tired of the blizzards and the cold as Laura and her family are. No one knows where their next meal is coming from or if the train will ever make it through to the town with supplies, but there is also a sense of stern community spirit as neighbour looks out for neighbour: Almanzo Wilder and Cap Garland journey through a terrible storm to get wheat. Will the Ingalls and their neighbours come out of the winter unscathed?
I can see why this book remains a favourite with readers of the Little House series. Laura Ingalls Wilder describes the hardships of this period in her life in great detail. The life of her and her family seems to become a never ending cycle of getting out of bed in the cold, doing chores, then going to bed in the cold, and barely venturing out of the house, and worrying about their Pa when he does venture out. It’s understandable that she and her family found it difficult to keep cheerful under such harsh circumstances and when the spring does finally come, the reader also feels relieved.