Synopses & Reviews
Ten-year-old Alberta lives in the sagebrush country of eastern Oregon. She longs to travel the world just like her "exotic" relatives who are due to visit the family ranch.
"Out of the pine-and-sagebrush country of eastern Oregon in the 1950s, the matriarch of a ranching family burns with resentment toward neighbors who, two generations ago, took most of her land....Her 10-year-old granddaughter, Alberta, lives in the serene expectation of inheriting the ranchuntil, poking around in a barn loft, she discovers that the heroic pioneer who founded it may have murdered Indian children....Direct, yet subtle, Dreams Like Thunder is really about leavetaking. Alberta is going to leave the land that has sustained and imprisoned her family, though she doesnt know it yet, and be haunted for the rest of her life by the smells of hay and manure and mountain air, by the legend that is shaping her even as she rejects it. Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Diane Simmons...has the measure of her setting as well as her rural characters in this thoroughly enjoyable, unpretentious second novel." The New York Times Book Review
"A quiet little dying-to-come-of-age novel about a farmgirl during the Fifties, written by the author of Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark. At just 11, Alberta Whiting already knows everything there is to know about her hometown (Adair, Oregon, population 198) and its people indeed, 'They couldn't make a sound she didn't know.' Still, she and the author show us around....It's all very vivid, nicely written, with a sharp sense of a girl's world. But since puberty is the only change one could expect for Alberta and the author doesn't really dip into that, the book's a nonstarter placid and purposeless." Kirkus Reviews
"Dreams Like Thunder tells the story of Alberta, the ten-year-old heir of a small Eastern Oregon farm, and the impending visit of "sophisticated" relatives who have lived in Japan. Although it is 1959, Alberta's family seems more in touch with the myth of their own pioneer past than the 20th century. Diane Simmons's gift for storytelling is solidly based on ability to describe both characters and background while she weaves her storyteller's spell, capturing the imagination of the reader." Midwest Book Review
Dreams Like Thunder takes place on a small Eastern Oregon farm between Baker and Hells Canyon. The story is set over a couple of days in 1959, but part of the family seems less in touch with the 20th century than with the myth of their own pioneer past. The myth varies according to who is doing the telling. It is up to Alberta, who is ten years old and heir to both the farm and the myth, to discover some truth behind the stories - a truth that will help her know who she is and what her own future might be.