Rating: 3.5 stars
Sammy is a sixteen year old Chinese girl living with her father in 1849 Missouri. Her mother died in childbirth when they were living in New York City. They live behind their dry goods store and Sammy gives violin lessons to children. She dreams of moving back to New York one day while her father dreams of moving to California. Before either one can see their dreams come true Sammy’s father dies when their store goes up in flames. Soon after Sammy finds herself on the run after killing a townsman in self-defense. A young slave housekeeper, Annamae, goes on the run with Sammy hoping to find her long-lost brother as well as her own freedom.
Disguised as boys and calling themselves Sam and Andy, they soon team up with three cowboys,West, Cay and Peety, who are heading to California to join the Gold Rush. The young men are able to overlook Sammy’s and Annamae’s differences and accept them into their group. This is a story about loyalty, young love, friendship, survival and trust.
I liked that this book had two strong young women as its main characters. It shows them struggling with different awakening feelings and difficult situations. I also liked that the young cowboys accepted them for who they were and saw past their outer differences that other people could not.
This is not a book that I would normally choose to read. It was my daughter’s seventh grade summer reading assignment for school. My daughter struggles with reading comprehension and I often read her books so that we can discuss them together and I can help her navigate the stories and understand what is happening. The author delivers her story in a nice and easy flowing style. This is a nice story for a younger reader than myself. I am sure middle school students can better relate to and enjoy this coming of age story.