Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
News of the discovery of gold in California reached Larksville, Missouri in 1848. Raymond Hillerman left his general store behind to find his fortune. He asked Jonas Cooper to join him, but a last minute accident required him to stay home and tend to the farming. Instead, his younger brother, 16-year-old Travis, accompanied Mr. Hillerman. Their adventures of traveling west are captured in the novel, West from the Cradle by Brigid Amos. They joined a wagon train in St. Joseph, Missouri to begin the long trek. There were new friendships formed, dangerous confrontations with herds of buffalo and unsavory characters, and deadly diseases. Travis found a partner named Joaquin de la Rosa from Monterey, California. Joaquin came from a wealthy family, but also loved gambling. Other intriguing characters in the book include other adventurers on the wagon train; Susan Drake, a young, beautiful Nisenan Indian who had an English father; and others seeking fortune by panning for gold.
The author has written an engaging story, with the inclusion of fascinating historical information. It is realistic, demonstrating how difficult life was in the mid-nineteenth century. The book flows smoothly, moving from one adventure to another. The characters are believable and well-developed. As each new character is introduced into the story, there is an immediate understanding of what kind of personality the person is. Author Brigid Amos has written a well-balanced and captivating historical novel in West from the Cradle. An interesting read!