West from the Cradle

Young Adult

HISTORICAL:  Travis Cooper has always been too small and bookish for anyone to have great expectations of him. When the opportunity to journey west to California in search of gold arises, Travis seizes it with both hands. Unfortunately, the journey west is fraught with trouble and unscrupulous persons who want to take advantage of the innocent young man. Luckily, fate isn’t done with Travis yet, and he eventually partners up with Joaquin, a gambler and son of a wealthy landowner in search of his own success.  Staying alive long enough to earn money to send home will take everything Travis has, and trying to keep his partner alive might do them both in.

A tale of adventure and desperation, “West from the Cradle” follows an innocent young man seeking his fortune, who experiences some of the worst aspects of the Wild West during the Gold Rush. Full of both complex and stereotypical characters, the story showcases some of the racism, greed, ignorance, and horrors of the period, while still managing to build Travis up. Although the story flows well and the characters are well done, it does end in a cliffhanger and leaves many unanswered questions. Still, despite the gloomy circumstances Travis encounters, readers will be mesmerized by the adventure and crossing their fingers for a second, perhaps happier, book.

Sarah E Bradley