Leaving her home in Taos, Mexico, to join a wagon train in search of her brother, Meadow Lark’s resourceful 1845 heroine is thirteen-year-old Teresita Montoya. The journey turns out to be one of heart, mind, and spirit, and we are all richer in her company.
Teresita “dream sees” with her loved ones and draws allies with her trail food preparation and uncomplaining nature. She discovers her fear of water’s origins during an escape from a band of Kiowa. Fictional characters are skillfully interwoven with historical persons like Charles Bent and the Cheyenne Mi-ah-tose, who the Americans call Slim Face.
Although a little heavy handed with the “I don’t want to grow up to be my mother” proto-feminist movement language, the novel is written in both an informative and a gently lyrical style, with settings a reader can smell and taste as well as see. Its wonderfully spirited heroine shines, along with colorful supporting characters – especially Teresita’s father, brother, and the cynical merchant Dona Carmen, whose grudging respect Teresita wins.