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.