Susanna Fairchild and her family sail from New York to the West, where they plan to start a new life in Oregon. But tragedy strikes when Susanna's mother is lost to the sea. Hearing stories of great wealth, Susanna's physician father decides he wants to join the hordes of men rushing to California to mine for gold. Illustrations.
"Gr. 4-8. Aboard a side-wheel steamer, 14-year-old Susanna Fairchild begins her account of her family's journey to Oregon from New York. It is New Year's Day, 1849, when she takes up the journal begun by her mother, who was tragically lost at sea. Susanna anticipates reuniting with family and friends in Oregon, but when the steamer docks in San Francisco, her father is affected by gold fever and takes his daughters into the wilds of California to find gold. The daily struggles, dangers, and lawlessness of the mining camps are richly detailed in Susanna's vivid entries, as are episodes of frontier justice and prejudice (especially toward Chinese and Peruvian miners) and cruel treatment of wild animals, which were used for the miners' entertainment. In spite of her difficult life, Susanna still takes time to ponder such basic questions as Why do thieves and murderers sometimes run free while good people suffer? It's clear that real wealth lies not in gold or luck, but in strength of character. A gripping, realistic fictional glimpse of history, in the Dear America series. --Ellen Mandel"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.