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The Road to Home

The Road to Home

4.0 1
by Mary Jane Auch

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Following Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer, this is the third novel in a powerful American pioneer trilogy.

"I knew I couldn't count on Papa any more, because no matter what he promised, he wasn't reliable. But he had given me enough money to provide us food and shelter for a week. I held in my hand the power to get us home."

Since her


Following Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer, this is the third novel in a powerful American pioneer trilogy.

"I knew I couldn't count on Papa any more, because no matter what he promised, he wasn't reliable. But he had given me enough money to provide us food and shelter for a week. I held in my hand the power to get us home."

Since her mother passed away, thirteen year old Remembrance "Mem" Nye is looking forward to the comfort of her grandmother's arms, and help in caring for her two younger siblings. But when her family's covered wagon reaches Rome, New York, just as the digging of the Erie Canal gets under way, Mem's father decides to delay their journey home to join the canal crew.

Soon it becomes apparent that Papa has no intention of making the rest of the trip to Connecticut, or of watching over his family. Mem resolves to take the children to Connecticut herself--even if it means traveling by foot with very limited funds. Will the challenges be too much for even Mem's courageous spirit?

Mary Jane Auch brings her gripping pioneer trilogy to a satisfying close in this realistic portrayal of a brave young woman's struggle during a difficult period in history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The ill-starred pioneer family of Mary Jane Auch's Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer returns in The Road to Home. This installment, set in 1817, finds 13-year-old Remembrance Nye leading her younger siblings back from upstate New York to their grandmother's house in Connecticut. (Holt, $16.95 ages 9-12 ISBN 0-8050-4921-5; July) A companion to Steal Away Home, Lois Ruby's Soon Be Free alternates between a present-day mystery set in a bed-and-breakfast and a historical adventure about a 13-year-old boy who aids four runaway slaves in 1857. (S&S, $17 ages 8-12 ISBN 0-689-83266-4; Aug.) THE TEDDY BEARS' PICNIC Jimmy Kennedy, illus. by Alexandra Day. S&S/Aladdin, $5.99 ISBN 0-689-83530-2. ~ The illustrator of Good Dog, Carl creates a cozy woodland gathering of cuddly bears, inspired by a favorite song. Ages 3-6. (June) BLAZE FINDS THE TRAIL C.W. Anderson. S&S/Aladdin, $4.99 ISBN 0-689-83520-5. ~ Originally published in 1950, this story of Billy and his adventures exploring the forest with his pony is available in paperback for the first time, complete with colorized cover art. Three more Blaze books previously available only in hardcover will follow. Ages 5-8. (July) ~ SECRET LETTERS FROM 0 TO 10 Susie Morgenstern, trans. by Gill Rosner. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130819-2. ~ "Set in France and wrought with energy and wit, this chronicle of a deprived young man whose life is turned topsy-turvy with a new neighbor's arrival is not to be missed," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) THE BOXES William Sleator. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130810-9. ~ This tale of a girl who, like Pandora, is given not one but two boxes she is forbidden to open, is filled with the author's "signature high-style ick and suspense," said PW. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) THE MARVELOUS MISADVENTURES OF SEBASTIAN Lloyd Alexander. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130816-8. ~ Spiced with the author's unique brand of wit, this winner of the 1971 National Book Award follows a young adventurer with good intentions through disaster after disaster. Ages 10-14. (July) REACHING DUSTIN Vicki Grove. Puffin, $5.99 ISBN 0-698-11839-1. ~ PW called this "a heartfelt story that unmasks the vulnerabilities of two preadolescents from very different walks of life." Ages 10-up. (Aug.) SOMEONE LIKE YOU Sarah Dessen. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130269-0. ~ PW said this "realistic portrayal of contemporary teens and their moral challenges breathes fresh life into well-worn themes of rebellion and first love." Ages 12-up. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
Thirteenyearold Mem Nye is thrilled when her father agrees to sell the farm in western New York and move back to Connecticut to be near family. So much had happened since their arrival two years ago, but the worst was that her mama died, leaving Mem to care for her younger brother and baby sister. When they arrive in Rome, NY, Mem's father is so excited about the prospects of making good money building the Erie Canal, that he all but abandons his three children. When Mem realizes he is not about to return to Connecticut in the near future, she plans to get them back there herself. The final book in the trilogy transports the reader to the westward expansion of the early nineteenth century, with its positive and negative aspects. The setting and the characters are skillfully drawn and marvelously engaging. While the final resolution seems a bit too tidy, it is plausible. Mem and her siblings are last seen moving forward, physically and symbolically. The author's note may inspire budding historians. A fine piece of historical fiction. 2000, Henry Holt, Ages 9 to 12, $16.95. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Auch completes the story of Remembrance Nye, which she began in Journey to Nowhere (1997). In Frozen Summer (1998, both Holt), Mem's mother died, leaving her with the care of young Joshua and Lily. Now 13, Mem sets out on the road back to Connecticut with her father, brother, and baby sister. Their father proves to be the sort of man who cannot assume responsibility for anyone but himself and, when the family reaches Rome, NY, the lure of fast money and the excitement of working on the Erie Canal project take precedence over the welfare of his children. Mem is left in charge, living at a small tavern in town while Papa moves out to the construction site. Prickly, proper, and often hard to like, the teen decides to return to her mother's family with her siblings, without their father's help. She foolishly attempts the trip on foot with no food or provisions, and after much hardship, turns back. While the denouement is rather contrived, Mem is a clearly defined character, yearning for education and adult guidance. Filled with action, adventure, and lots of solid historical detail, the book stands well on its own. A useful addition to collections where historical fiction is popular and where westward expansion is part of the curriculum.-Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Remembrance "Mem" Nye is delighted to finally leave her father's New York State farm for Connecticut and family. At 13, her life has been hard, caring for baby Lily and keeping after small brother Joshua since their mother died. But Pa is full of dreams, and when they get to Rome, New York, he's seduced by the idea of working on the new Erie Canal. Mem is left in their tavern lodgings with the two younger children and Maude, the warm but distracted innkeeper. When Pa's work keeps him away six days a week, and he spends the seventh drinking, Mem feels she must take the youngsters and get to Connecticut. How Mem attempts to walk to her grandmother's forms the core of this historical novel, and the children's adventures in the town and on the road are full of the reality of life and travel in 1817. Mem seems sometimes older, sometimes younger than 13 (for example, would even a motherless farm girl not know what her menses were when they came?), and Pa is a caricature. The resolution is neat but satisfying, and not quite what anyone expected. The difficulties of caring for a small child like Lily are vividly sketched, as are the travails of daily life in the early 19th century. Hold My Hand & Run , by Margaret McAllister (p.717) tells a similar tale set in 17th-century England. (Fiction. 9-14)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.68(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt


"Mem!" Papa called. "If we don't get on the road, we won't even make Canandaigua by nightfall."

I looked around our homestead--a rough log cabin in a clearing carved out of the forest. When Mama died last summer, Papa promised me we could go back home to our family in Connecticut. Since that day I had thought of nothing but getting away from this place that had brought us so much heartache. But now that we were leaving, my feet felt rooted to the ground. "Let me check the cabin one more time, Papa. I want to make sure we haven't forgotten anything."

It seemed strange for me to be responsible for doing the checking. When we left Connecticut the spring before last, Mama had been the one to count and recount every item to be packed, as Papa was too filled with the excitement of our wilderness adventure to pay attention to details. I had been only eleven then and not very helpful to Mama. But now it fell to me to make sure everything was loaded and ready to go.

I climbed the ladder to the loft that had been my sleeping place. I knew I wouldn't find anything. The only furniture had been my bed and dresser, and Papa had put them on the wagon this morning while I swept the last traces of us from the floors. The family who had bought our land would arrive tomorrow. I hoped this place would bring them more happiness than it had us.

"Hurry, Mem! Papa wants to leave." My younger brother, Joshua, had climbed the ladder.

"You're supposed to be watching Lily," I said.

I looked over his shoulder and saw Lily sitting on the dirt floor below. It was a little over a year ago that I had watched Lily'sbirth from this very spot. I hadn't known at the time that I would be more of a mother to her than Mama.

"Mem," Joshua insisted. "We're all ready except for you. Papa says we can get peppermint sticks at the store in Canandaigua if we get there before it closes."

"I wondered what had you so all-fired anxious to get going." Joshua was usually the one who dallied when we were trying to go somewhere. I followed him down the ladder, picked up Lily, and took one last look inside the cabin before I pulled the door shut.

Joshua had already climbed onto the wagon seat when I got there. I had started to hand Lily up to him when I felt something stop me. "Couldn't we go to Mama's grave before we leave, Papa?"

Papa put his arm around me. "We said our good-byes last night, Mem. You know your mama's in heaven, not buried back in that grave. You'll see more of your mama in your grandma's eyes than you will in a mound of dirt with her name on a marker."

"I know you're right," I said, "but it still pains me to leave her here like this." Mama was never meant for living in the wilderness. She missed her home and family so much, it drove her to madness. She grew distant and weak, unable to care for Lily or even herself. Finally she wandered off on a cold night and died from exposure. Even now, after almost a year without her, it was hard to believe we'd never see Mama again. Now we were going back to the place and people that Mama had loved. My heart ached that Mama couldn't go back with us. I lifted Lily up to Joshua and took my place walking beside Papa.

We were off again, heading toward Williamson, the walk I had taken every morning to go to school. After Mama couldn't be left alone, I had stopped going to school, but the teacher, Miss Becher, had boarded with us until Mama died. Then I had to stay home to care for Lily, but Miss Becher still came to our house at least once a week to help me with my studies. I wanted to stop at the school to thank Miss Becher for her help, but I knew Papa wouldn't want to wait while I talked to her. I'd have to get there before the wagon.

"Papa, may I run ahead to say good-bye to Miss Becher?"

"You'll have to be quick about it, Mem. We don't have time to stop and wait for you."

"You won't have to wait. I'll hurry." It wasn't hard to outdistance the team of oxen. With the heavy load in the wagon, they moved at a lumbering pace. I ran all the way into town and stopped just for a moment to catch my breath and smooth my hair before going to the school.

Miss Becher looked up as I opened the door. "Mem! I was hoping you'd stop by. Boys and girls, some of you may know Remembrance Nye. Her family is moving back to Connecticut today."

The faces that turned to look at me stared blankly. Most of the students I knew had moved farther west after the freezing weather we had all last summer.

Miss Becher picked up something from her desk and came toward me. "Work on your lessons, boys and girls. I'll be right back." She led me outside and handed me a slim volume bound in soft leather the color of cream. "I want you to take this journal with you, Mem. It's a place for you to write down your thoughts. I've also copied some of my favorite poems into it."

"It's beautiful," I whispered. "I should be giving you a gift to thank you for all the things you've taught me."

Miss Becher smiled. "Just seeing how eagerly you learn has been gift enough for me. I hope you won't give up your dream of becoming a teacher."

"I won't, Miss Becher. Now that we'll be living with our family, I'll be free to go to school full-time while my aunts and Grandma help take care of Lily."

We were interrupted by the rattle of wagon wheels as Papa led the team into the center of town. "I have to go," I said.

Miss Becher hugged me. "Have a safe journey, Mem. Write to me when you get settled."

Copyright 2002 by Mary Jane Auch

Meet the Author

Mary Jane Auch has written over twenty books for children, including the first two books about Remembrance Nye, Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer. Both were named New York Public Library Best Books for the Teenage and Bank Street College of Education Best Books for Children. Ms. Auch lives in upstate New York.

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The Road to Home 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading Journey To Nowhere & Frozen Summer, I was not disappointed by Road To Home. These three books should be reprinted in paperback, and be a part of the social studies program in every school. Life was hard for pioneers, and this was the best example of a life of hardship I have read yet. It is not a 'happily ever after' story, but I was sorry when the third book came to an end. I am recommending this trilogy to my library students.
Guest More than 1 year ago