Stranded: A Story of Frontier Survival

Written by Matthew P. Mayo
Review by Thomas j. Howley

1849, the American West: a little family moves for a better life from Missouri to Oregon. It just seems our forebears were so much tougher than us. This short novel, based on a historical fragment, is convincing. Fourteen-year-old Janette Riker reluctantly departs with her father and brothers to a better land. Over 50 years later, her spoiled great-granddaughter, who discovers and reads an ancient diary, ensnares us in the first few pages into Janette’s tragic but incredibly triumphant ordeal.

In the foothills of the Rockies as winter approaches, Janette’s kin leave to find food as she stays behind. The worst happens, and the teenage girl is suddenly alone in the most hostile environment imaginable. Narrated in simple country prose, pleasing to the reader, Janette’s impressive efforts to keep herself alive entrance us, especially considering she is alone, with only her father’s lessons to guide her. Interludes with bears, wolves and especially a rapacious mountain lion are as terrifying as any horror novel. Present-day adults and kids will be proud of Janette. Highly recommended.