Frontier and pioneer life -- fiction

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

In Train Dreams, Denis Johnson constructs a melancholy portrait of the U.S. frontier. Instead of focusing on the raw potential and opportunity most associate with the Western expansion, Johnson elucidates the isolation and stasis involved in “taming” a wild place. Johnson artfully constructs a non-linear account of Robert Grainier’s life on the frontier. Through Grainier’s perspective, we witness the rapid transformation of America – from railroad construction to the proliferation of sleek highways; from influenza epidemics to a random encounter with Elvis Presley. Despite the changes going on around him, Grainier remains a lonely outsider, observing the world’s expedited evolution from a distance.

Fittingly, Grainier’s first memory is of an iconic symbol of movement and progress: a train. As a child, he was sent to Idaho on the Great Northern Railroad to live with his cousins. The experience of locomotion erased all memory of his origins, leaving him with a vague and malleable sense of self: “The whole adventure made him forget things as soon as they happened, and he very soon misplaced this earliest part of his life entirely.

Worth

By A. LaFaye

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After Nathaniel's leg is crushed in an accident, his father brings home an orphan boy, John Worth, to help work the fields. Worth has come to Nebraska from New York City on the Orphan Train, which brings homeless children west to find new lives. Nathaniel feels increasingly jealous of the boy who has taken over not only his work but the attention of his father, who has barely spoken to him since his injury. In school for the first time he is far behind even his youngest classmates, and he feels as useless there as he does at home.
Meanwhile, Worth is still grieving for his family and his old life. As the farm chores prevent him from going to school, he also resents losing his dream of an education and a good job. And for all the work he does, he knows he will never inherit the farm that he's helping to save.

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Seeds of Hope: The Gold Rush Diary of Susanna Fairchild

By Kristiana Gregory

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Susanna Fairchild and her family sail from New York to the West, where they plan to start a new life in Oregon. But tragedy strikes when Susanna's mother is lost to the sea. Hearing stories of great wealth, Susanna's physician father decides he wants to join the hordes of men rushing to California to mine for gold.
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Jericho's Journey

By G. Clifton Wisler

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As his family makes the long and difficult journey from Tennessee to their new home in Texas in 1852, twelve-year-old Jericho Wetherby, teased by his sister and brothers about his size, learns there are many ways to grow.
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Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail

By Elvira Woodruff

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In 1851, 12-year-old orphan Austin Ives joins a wagon train headed for California. As they make their way across the country, Austin writes home to his brother Levi, describing day-to-day life on the Overland Trail. In his own observant and vigorous voice, Austin tells of the everyday happenings--hunting game and fording streams--as well as more dramatic episodes, from devastating illness to complex encounters with Indians.

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The Abernathy Boys

By L. J. Jones

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A fictionalized account of the adventurous 1909 journey of nine-year-old Bud Abernathy and his five-year-old brother, Temp, who traveled alone, mostly on horseback, from their home in Oklahoma to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and back again, crossing the vast, desert-like no-man's-land in the Texas Panhandle known as the caprock.
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Rodzina

By Karen Cushman

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"One of a group of orphans, 12-year-old Rodzina boards a train on a cold day in March 1881. She's reluctant to leave Chicago, the only home she can remember, and she knows there's no substitute for the family she has lost. She expects to be adopted and turned into a slave--or worse, not to be adopted at all. As the train rattles westward, Rodzina unwittingly begins to develop attachments to her fellow travelers, even the frosty orphan guardian, and to accept the idea that there might be good homes for orphans-maybe even for a big, combative Polish girl. But no placement seems right for the formidable Rodzina, and she cleverly finds a way out of one bad situation after another, until at last she finds the family that is right for her."
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Westward to Home

By Patricia Hermes

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In 1848, nine-year-old Joshua Martin McCullough writes a journal of his family's journey from Missouri to Oregon in a covered wagon. Includes a historical note about westward migration.
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Hoofbeats of Danger

By Holly Hughes

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In 1860, eleven-year-old Annie, who lives at the Red Buttes Pony Express station in the Nebraska Territory, asks Pony Express rider Billy Cody to help her find the person responsible for sabotaging her favorite pony Magpie.

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The Journal of Joshua Loper: A Black Cowboy

By Walter Dean Myers

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Two-time Newbery Honor-winning author Myers writes about an African-American boy's struggles with his first cattle drive in 1871 and the racial prejudices of the day.

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