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Blizzard's Wake

Blizzard's Wake

4.0 14
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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Kate Sterling has lost four years of her life to grief and anger. Zeke Dexter has lost four years of his life as well — in jail for the accident that killed Kate's mother. Just out of prison, Zeke wants to put the past behind him, but a freak blizzard makes him a prisoner once again — he of Kate, and Kate of him.
Kate fears she will never be able to


Kate Sterling has lost four years of her life to grief and anger. Zeke Dexter has lost four years of his life as well — in jail for the accident that killed Kate's mother. Just out of prison, Zeke wants to put the past behind him, but a freak blizzard makes him a prisoner once again — he of Kate, and Kate of him.
Kate fears she will never be able to overcome the anger that has consumed her since her mother's death. But is Zeke the only one Kate needs to forgive?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
School Library Journal Another winner from Naylor...an exciting survival story.

Voice of Youth Advocates 5Q 4P review With the reverberating theme of death and forgiveness, Naylor's powerful novel is quite memorable.

Publishers Weekly, starred review Pulses with drama.

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, November 2002: Fifteen-year-old Kate Sterling lives outside of Grand Forks, North Dakota, in March 1941. Across the ocean the world is warring, in the unseasonably warm air a blizzard is lurking, and in Kate's heart the hatred she feels toward the drunk driver who took her mother's life is boiling. Meanwhile, the driver, Zeke Dexter, has just completed his prison term and is coming back home to the only family he has left. In alternating chapters, Naylor brings these two characters closer and closer until, in an ironic twist of fate, they are trapped with Kate's father and brother by the Red River Valley Blizzard of '41, which almost kills them all. Naylor's description allows the reader to experience the blizzard's suffocating white power. While they wait for the plows to reach their rural home, Kate struggles to control her violent feelings toward Zeke in the face of his remorse and her father's compassion for him. Even her younger brother moves beyond his own pain to befriend the man who has killed his mother. When injury confines Zeke to her home even longer, Kate comes to realize she is destroying herself through her hatred, and that only forgiveness will begin her healing process. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 231p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Michele Winship
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
Kate Sterling is alone in her house as the great blizzard of 1941 rages around her. Her father, Doc, and her brother Jesse are stranded in their car-snowbound. Zeke Dexter, the convict who killed Kate's mother, has just gotten out of prison, and is out there somewhere walking in the storm. Kate has dreamed of Zeke's return and of the revenge she will exact. Wandering blindly and nearly dead, Zeke happens to bump into Doc Sterling's car, now almost drifted over. And Kate, determined to act, ties a clothesline around her waist, tethers herself to a fence, goes out exploring, and happens to find the car. The convergence of Kate, Zeke, and the worst blizzard in anyone's memory makes for a good, well-plotted story, in spite of the coincidences that make it all work. Kate's heroic efforts to save her father and brother result in the unexpected: her mother's killer stranded in her own house. And when Zeke is injured chopping wood out back, Kate ends up helping nurse him back to health. Kate must come to terms with Zeke as a person and with her hatred as a debilitating emotion. With WWII in the background, the blizzard's ravages, and the storms in the lives of the characters, this becomes a story about forgiveness and facing up to the forces in one's life. Kate realizes she can stay true to her mother's memory, be civil to Zeke, and not be consumed by hatred. A nice addition to this Newbery winner's body of work. (historical note) (Fiction. 12-14)

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written more than 135 books, including the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh, the Alice series, and Roxie and the Hooligans. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. To hear from Phyllis and find out more about Alice, visit AliceMcKinley.com.

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Blizzard's Wake 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well, this book was pretty bad. My friend and I read this for school, and it was one of the worst books we ever read. We tried reading this together, and we were barely able to stay awake. I think that them falling in love is a horrible part, even though we havent made it that far because this book is just that horrible. I think if Edward Cullen barfed on a bunch of peices of paper it would've been a better story than this. The whole blizzard scene was almost pointless, and the author tended to ramble on about pointless stuff alot. I dont really care how much medicine he needed per second. She could've kept it simple and said once: "Okay, Kate, just do like five drops per second, okay?". I also felt that the characters personality were as dry and liveless as Lily and James Potter after they were killed. Seriously. Not joking. In my opinion, a chewed piece of gum on the bottom of a school desk is more interesting than the thirty chapters i have read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
Powerful story line. Detail descriptions of the surroundings make the story come alive. The protagonist has an emotional "twist & turn" situation happening and must come 2 grips with anger and frustration. Forgiveness is the central theme - 2 B free U need 2 forgive, free yourself, unload anger, and move forward 2 allow 4 peace 2 come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the small lonely towns of Dakota, Zeke Dexter and Kate Sterling struggle in a difficult conflict that taunts them througout the story. As the book progresses, Kate and Zeke must both learn how to turn thier troubles into something of the past, as Kate along with her father and brother must learn to forvive and forget about the terrible murder of Kate's mother that Zeke commited. Protaining to the nonfictional events of 1941, and the suspensfull plots that grabs you to this book, Blizzard's Wake is a wonderful book that is worth reading for.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the book Blizzard's Wake written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor there is good insite into what people had to go through during the blizzard of 1941 in Grandfolks, North Dakota. It is written in well thought out detail that really brings you into the event itself. It makes you almost able to feel the cold that the characters are feeling. I like the fact that she doesn't use real people but uses real facts that happened during this historical event. You look through the eyes of different people all in a different circumstances. Kate Sterling was stuck at home during the storm. Doc Sterling and his son Jesse were stuck in a car fifty yards away from their home. Zeke Dexter, recently released from prison for the murder of Mrs. Sterling, was walking home when the storm hit. He ended up in the car with the husband and son of his murder victim. The author tells real facts that happened during the blizzard as well as developing the story lines of the characters. The author brings in facts about the changing of wind direction from west to east and the rapidly dropping temperatures from 28 to 13 degrees. These meterogical events dramatically effected the severity of the storm on the area. The story followed the characters experiences while being stranded during the Red River Valley Blizzard of 1941, also called the Black Blizzard. The book was packed full of information and was a very enjoyable read. It captures your interest right away because it gets you involved with the characters. I strongly recommend this book ages 10 and up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this novel with my sixth graders who hated when the period ended each day. I was accused of stopping at a cliffhanger everyday. They learned alot about forgiveness, responsibility, and a little history. ALL 98 gave it a thumbs up!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
blizzard's wake is about zeke and kate. zeke killed kate'smother ann when drunk driving. kate will never forgive even though he is living with her, her dad,and brother. what will she do?
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought that the book was rather predictable and boring..how long did it really need for kate 2 get over her mom's death? it lingered too long over that plot and didn't really move on to any thing else. from the back of the book, i was excited to read it, but was then disappointed in it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a teenagers struggle to forgive. Several years ago Kates mother was killed by a drunk driver named, Zeke Dexter. When Zeke gets out of prison early and comes back to town Kate has horrible thoughts about him. Trying to follow Kates journy of forgiveness for both Zeke and herself kept me on the edge of my seat. I highly recomend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was very good. I wondered if Kate would every forgive Zeke for what he did, and I didn't find out in till the end. I was a very good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was actually rather disappointed with this book. I have read from Naylor's stock pile before and this book really didn't live up to my expectations. I thought it was rather predictable...the girl has some feelings of her own to get rid of before she can forgive this man, which is understandable, it's just..I don't know, I didn't like it. It was hard for the book to keep my intrest. Extremely dissapointing when you've read a few of her books before.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book. It's really a good story and it kept you guessing untill the end. I also loved it because I'm from North Dakota and I knew about all the placed they talked about. If you're from ND you will ove this book even more.