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Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite
West: Journey Across the Plains by David S. Larson is an amazing chronicle of the journey of the Jennings family. The family plans to travel from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, seeking out their fortunes like so many in the mid to late 1800s. However, tragedy strikes the eldest Jennings’ child, Sarah, in the form of a fever. Unbeknownst to the family, Sarah recovers, but is left without means to contact her family, so she must resort to drastic means in order to support herself. Finally gaining her freedom, Sarah travels west, desperately hoping to get in contact with her lost family. The Jennings family, on the other hand, is faring no better, struck down with many of the common things to befall travelers in covered wagons. Will Sarah be reunited with her family, or are they forever to be parted?
I was captivated by this novel from the very beginning. Mr. Larson states in the introduction that the story comes from letters and diaries of the actual Jennings family. True or not, this remains a mystery to me, but I wouldn’t doubt for a second that this actually happened. I am from the San Francisco area in California, and it was fascinating to read first-hand accounts of what life was like then. Sarah’s journey is fraught with so much pain, touching on many topics that were considered taboo at the time. David S. Larson covers almost every danger faced by pioneers at the time. West: Journey Across the Plains is certainly a must-read for anyone interested in this time period, and the diary entries will draw you right into the characters’ lives, trials, and tribulations.