From the author of Eliza’s Freedom Road and Calico Girl (a Kirkus Best Book of the Year) comes a dramatic historical middle grade novel that is “a unique lens through which to examine the 1849 Gold Rush” (School Library Journal) following an enslavedgirl taking the chance to find freedom on the Overland Trail to California.
In Alexandria, Virginia, in the mid-19th century, a slave-owning family is facing financial trouble. The eldest son, Jason, thinks going to California to mine for gold might be the best way to protect his father’s legacy. He’ll need a cook, a laundress, and a hostler for the journey, and one of them is twelve-year-old Clementine, whose mother calls her Hope.
From Independence, Missouri—the “Gateway to the West”—she and the others join a wagon train on the Emigrant Overland Trail. But what Jason didn’t consider is taking the three enslaved people west will give them an opportunity to free themselves—manifesting their destiny.
Jerdine Nolen is the beloved author of many award-winning books, including Big Jabe; Thunder Rose, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book; and Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, all illustrated by Kadir Nelson. She is also the author of Eliza’s Freedom Road, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, which was an ALA/YALSA Best Fiction Nominee for Young Adults; Raising Dragons, illustrated by Elise Primavera, which received the Christopher Award; and Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm, illustrated by Mark Buehner, which was made into a movie by the same name. Her other books include Calico Girl, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, and Irene’s Wish, illustrated by A.G. Ford, which Kirkus Reviews called “delightful and memorable” in a starred review. Ms. Nolen is an educator and lives in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (April 30, 2024)