When almost-16-year-old Aiden Lynch and his little sister, Maddy, first meet trailrider Jefferson J. Jackson, they're eating clay and hunting grasshoppers on the remains of their family's drought-ravaged Kansas farm. In short, the two orphans are starving to death, so when this man Jackson offers an escape—a 2000-mile journey across the roughest country in the world—Aiden knows it's their only choice.
They say there are a hundred ways to die on the Oregon Trail, and the long wagon journey is broken only by catastrophe: wolf attacks, tornadoes, rattlesnakes, deadly river crossings, Indians, and the looming threat of smallpox, "the devil's paint." But with the sky a cornflower blue and the air sweet with new prairie grass, Aiden and Maddy and a hundred fellow travelers move forward with a growing hope, and the promise of a new life in the Washington Territory.
Adventure-filled and historically accurate, Victoria McKernan captures both the peril and stunning beauty of the frontier West in an epic American story at once sweeping and intimate, heartbreaking and hopeful.
About Victoria McKernan
VICTORIA MCKERNAN is the acclaimed author of The Devil's Paintbox and Shackleton's Stowaway, a historical novel for young adults about the 18-year-old stowaway on Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to the South Pole. She has also written four novels for adults. She lives in Washington, D.C., with a dog, two cats, and one boa constrictor.
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, December 8, 2008: “Flawless attention to detail and steady pacing keep readers fully engaged . . . Readers will be riveted.”
Starred Review, School Library Journal, February 2009: “This action-packed novel has all the elements of a good Western. . . Fans of wilderness survival stories or adventure sagas will appreciate it most.”