The Great Death arrived with the man from downriver, the one who came with the light-colored strangers and had little red spots covering his body. Thirteen-year-old Millie and her younger sister, Maura, are fascinated by the guests, but soon sickness takes over their village. As they watch the people they know and love die, the sisters remain unaffected and begin to realize that they will have to find a new home.
Alone in the cold Alaskan winter of 1917, struggling to overcome the obstacles nature throws their way, the girls discover that their true strength lies in their love for each other.
John Smelcer's spare and beautiful prose shapes the sisters story with tenderness and skill, presenting a powerful tale of determination, survival, and family.
"A gripping and poignant survival story, made even more so because of its basis on historical fact. ... Smelcer's prose is clean yet rich; original yet unpretentious, and he provides more than enough detail to satisfy diehard survival-story junkies." (Horn Book Review)
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