When orphans Aiden and Maddy Lynch first meet trailrider Jefferson J. Jackson in the spring of 1865, they're struggling to survive on their family's drought-ravaged Kansas farm. So when 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, rattlesnakes, deadly river crossings, Indians, and the looming threat of smallpox, "the devil's paint." Through it all, 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. But one question haunts them: who will survive the journey? In an adventure-filled and historically accurate new novel, Victoria McKernan captures both the peril and the stunning beauty of the frontier West.
In 1865, fifteen-year-old Aiden and his thirteen-year-old sister Maddy, penniless orphans, leave drought-stricken Kansas on a wagon train hoping for a better life in Seattle, but find there are still many hardships to be faced.