Since her husband’s death three years before, in 1851, Elizabeth Martin and her two children have continued running their farm in Selma, Kentucky with the help of Brady, a freed slave, but she dreams about resettling in Oregon. Once circumstances force the decision, Elizabeth and her parents begin planning for their cross-country journey. The first two weeks are spent on a riverboat, traveling from Kentucky to Kansas City. There, they join a train of fifty wagons moving west together under the authority of the wagon master, Captain Brownlee.
This first book in a series about a family’s journey on the Oregon Trail begins slowly, as introductions are made and preparations explained. But the story becomes more interesting once the train starts moving. It is fascinating to consider the logistics of moving this many wagons, when each family traveled as a unit and the entire line of wagons spread far apart. The friction between people from various backgrounds creates its own danger, in addition to those that are encountered on the trail, but the opportunities for romance also abound. I would recommend this book more heartily if the story were told as a whole, and not divided up into a series.