Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.com
Billy has helped himself to his step-father's money, and run away from a home that he could no longer tolerate. St. Joseph, Missouri, is a long way from Virginia City, but he plans to go there to find the father that he doesn't remember. The fifteen-year-old is vulnerable, and two hard-case strangers, Jackson and Rock, manage to swindle him out of his money, but he joins them as a driver for a company transporting goods west by oxen.
Life is hard on the trail, and especially so for an inexperienced boy on his own. He learns how to handle the huge, obstinate animals, and gains the skills needed to travel the rough trails of the great plains and the frontier. The drivers suffer thirst, heat, storms, unending labor, and the threat of Indian attacks. The rough men who are Billy's companions are not always easy to get along with, but one man, Frenchy, befriends Billy to help and teach him as he leaves childhood behind.
Disagreements among the men lead to Rock's leaving the caravan, and then Frenchy's disappearance. The trail bosses' horse bolts in fear, and Billy sets out on his own to find and bring back the horse. The tension builds to a surprising climax.
A story rich in historical detail, with compelling characters and fast-paced adventure, it will appeal to even reluctant readers. Billy is an exciting new character that teens will love. This exciting book was hard to put down...I'll be watching for more from this talented writer, and the ending did leave an opening for a possible sequel.