Thunder Beneath My Feet

Written by Carolyn Mulford

When word reaches the Lawton family that Mr. Lawton has taken ill while on the road, Mrs. Lawton and her son George travel south to bring him home. Fifteen-year-old Betsy is left in charge of her younger brother and the family’s farm.

Four days later, on December 16, 1811, a powerful earthquake strikes the Missouri Territory. Houses fall, rivers run backwards, and a foul-smelling mist, heavier and darker than fog, rises from the ground. Betsy watches neighbors flee, fearing the end of the world has come. When Betsy discovers their family’s money has been stolen, she begins to wonder if a thief is someone from town or perhaps a fleeing neighbor. But Betsy is waiting for the return of her parents and older brother and refuses to leave. With the help of a 16-year-old French-Shawnee boy called Rabbit, an abandoned slave, a French tutor and his Spanish wife, Betsy and her brother will care for the farm animals while keeping warm as snow begins to fall. But as weeks pass and the tremors continue to split the ground, how long can their rag-tag group hold out?

Thunder Beneath My Feet is a charming novel with a strong historical setting. The landscape, characters, and manners of speech all set the tone perfectly.  However, a few scenes could have been more deeply experienced by the characters. There is very little suspense in the plotline. However, the story is made intriguing by its diverse characters and well-visualized time period.

I would recommend this book to my daughter, particularly when she learns about pioneer life in school. I must admit that I had no idea about these events! The story is meticulously researched and will entertain (and educate!) readers from tweens to adults.