This novel is historical fiction set in the western United States during the 1860s. The story focuses on Aiden Lynch and his sister Maddy, who are initially orphans facing starvation on a farm in a deserted area of Kansas. Their adventure begins when they join up with Jefferson J. Jackson, a guide looking for men to work in lumber camps in Seattle. Aiden convinces Jackson that he will make a strong worker once he eats more, so Jackson allows the two to join his wagon train heading west. While on the trail, friends and enemies are made. Most significantly, Aiden befriends several Indians along the trail after they save his life. Eventually Aiden must take bold action to help the Indians as they battle a smallpox outbreak. This trial, as well as many others, test Aiden and his friendships with both the travelers and the Indians.
I enjoyed this book more than I was anticipating. I normally do not read historical fiction, but I found this novel entertaining. Although the plot is uncomplicated, with few surprises, the characters and the settings are very interesting. The diverse characters, both male and female, provide interesting snapshots of how people lived during this period in history. The settings range from the plains of Kansas, through mountains and rivers of the western U.S., to lumber camps near Seattle. While reading this book I also learned some interesting facts about smallpox and Native Americans in U.S. history. I recommend this book for anyone.