A Trail of Broken Dreams: The Gold Rush Diary of Harriet Palmer
Historical Fiction (Series)
Ages 12 and up
Scholastic Canada, 2004, 0-439-97405-4
Things are looking very grim for Harriet. Her mother is dead, her father is somewhere in the gold fields in Cariboo, and she is at the Red River Settlement without a penny to support herself, her little bother and her little sister. No matter how much she tries Harriet cannot come up with a solution. And then she gets the idea that the only way to make sure that the family stays together to go to find her father. If she can find him and explain to him what has happened, surely he will do all he can for the children, giving them a home and a future.
It is terribly hard for Harriet to leave William and little Luella but Harriet packs what she can, dresses up as a boy, and joins a caravan of wagons that is heading to the gold fields. Harriet has to be careful to make sure that no one guesses that she is a girl and this is not easy to do as the caravan encounters all kinds of difficulties on the trail. There are rivers to cross, mountain passes to get through, and the ever present worry that Natives are going to attack.
Once in Cariboo Harriet still has to find her father amongst the hundreds of people who have flocked to the town to find gold. How will she find his claim and what should she do if he is one of the many men who have died in this inhospitable place?
This fascinating title in the “Dear Canada” series is sure to capture the imagination of readers who enjoy historical fiction. Readers will discover how hard it was to travel overland to the gold fields in British Columbia and that, like so many gold rushes before and since, the reality of what travelers found once they got to the fields was nothing like the images that they had conjured up in their imaginations. Harriet’s courage and determination is inspiring and the author has managed to give the girl a warm and vibrant personality which can be felt throughout the story.
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