(Winner of the California Library Association's John and Patricia Beatty Award) The author of the Newbery Honor Book Catherine, Called Birdy and the Newbery Medal winner The Midwife's Apprentice (both medieval historical novels for readers 12 and up) set her third novel—for readers 9 to 12—in 1849 California. Twelve-year-old Lucy is distraught when her mother moves the family from Massachusetts to a small mining town, but once there she helps run a boarding house and looks for comfort in books while trying to find a way to return to New England.
"[The] Newbery medalist plunks down two more strong-minded women, this time in an 1849 mining camp—a milieu far removed from the Middle Ages of her first novels, but not all that different when it comes to living standards.... With a story that is less a period piece than a timeless and richly comic coming-of-age story, [Karen] Cushman remains on a roll."—Kirkus Reviews
"Cushman's heroine is a delightful character, and the historical setting is authentically portrayed. Lucy's story, as the author points out in her end notes, is the story of many pioneer women who exhibited great strength and courage as they helped to settle the West."—School Library Journal (starred review)