In 1849 Massachusetts, twelve-year-old Addie loses her father to Gold Rush fever, and her mother and younger brother a short time later to illness. Living at the edge of town, Addie always felt it was her city-bred mother who caused this isolation, an isolation that enabled Addie to stay in the family home without adults. Loving school and learning, Addie runs away when she realizes others will be coming to take her away as she is now considered an orphan. Having run away, and survived living alone during the winter, Addie realizes that the Indian woman she has seen around town is actually her grandmother, and Addie's grandmother takes her in to raise Addie in the ways of her birthmother.
Learning the truth about herself, Addie must face many new ideas, both about herself and the family she once thought as her own. Addie and her grandmother return from the traditional home after it burns down to Addie's white-man's home, causing Addie to realize many of the townspeople already knew about Addie's heritage. Through it all, Addie comes to understand much of what she could never before comprehend about her life and others' reactions to her, and struggles to find her true identity. Those who love Little House on the Prairie or American Girl will appreciate this tale with its historical accuracy, vivid language, and survival instincts of a female protagonist in a male and adult-oriented world.
Recommended by Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Librarian.