Following Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer, this is the third novel in a powerful American pioneer trilogy.
"I knew I couldn't count on Papa any more, because no matter what he promised, he wasn't reliable. But he had given me enough money to provide us food and shelter for a week. I held in my hand the power to get us home."
Since her mother passed away, thirteen year old Remembrance "Mem" Nye is looking forward to the comfort of her grandmother's arms, and help in caring for her two younger siblings. But when her family's covered wagon reaches Rome, New York, just as the digging of the Erie Canal gets under way, Mem's father decides to delay their journey home to join the canal crew.
Soon it becomes apparent that Papa has no intention of making the rest of the trip to Connecticut, or of watching over his family. Mem resolves to take the children to Connecticut herselfeven if it means traveling by foot with very limited funds. Will the challenges be too much for even Mem's courageous spirit?
Mary Jane Auch brings her gripping pioneer trilogy to a satisfying close in this realistic portrayal of a brave young woman's struggle during a difficult period in history.
About the Author
Mary Jane Auch has written over twenty books for children, including the first two books about Remembrance Nye, Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer. Both were named New York Public Library Best Books for the Teenage and Bank Street College of Education Best Books for Children. Ms. Auch lives in upstate New York.
Read an Excerpt
"Mem!" Papa called. "If we don't get on the road, we won't even make Canandaigua by nightfall."
I looked around our homestead--a rough log cabin in a clearing carved out of the forest. When Mama died last summer, Papa promised me we could go back home to our family in Connecticut. Since that day I had thought of nothing but getting away from this place that had brought us so much heartache. But now that we were leaving, my feet felt rooted to the ground. "Let me check the cabin one more time, Papa. I want to make sure we haven't forgotten anything."
It seemed strange for me to be responsible for doing the checking. When we left Connecticut the spring before last, Mama had been the one to count and recount every item to be packed, as Papa was too filled with the excitement of our wilderness adventure to pay attention to details. I had been only eleven then and not very helpful to Mama. But now it fell to me to make sure everything was loaded and ready to go.
I climbed the ladder to the loft that had been my sleeping place. I knew I wouldn't find anything. The only furniture had been my bed and dresser, and Papa had put them on the wagon this morning while I swept the last traces of us from the floors. The family who had bought our land would arrive tomorrow. I hoped this place would bring them more happiness than it had us.
"Hurry, Mem! Papa wants to leave." My younger brother, Joshua, had climbed the ladder.
"You're supposed to be watching Lily," I said.
I looked over his shoulder and saw Lily sitting on the dirt floor below. It was a little over a year ago that I had watched Lily'sbirth from this very spot. I hadn't known at the time that I would be more of a mother to her than Mama.
"Mem," Joshua insisted. "We're all ready except for you. Papa says we can get peppermint sticks at the store in Canandaigua if we get there before it closes."
"I wondered what had you so all-fired anxious to get going." Joshua was usually the one who dallied when we were trying to go somewhere. I followed him down the ladder, picked up Lily, and took one last look inside the cabin before I pulled the door shut.
Joshua had already climbed onto the wagon seat when I got there. I had started to hand Lily up to him when I felt something stop me. "Couldn't we go to Mama's grave before we leave, Papa?"
Papa put his arm around me. "We said our good-byes last night, Mem. You know your mama's in heaven, not buried back in that grave. You'll see more of your mama in your grandma's eyes than you will in a mound of dirt with her name on a marker."
"I know you're right," I said, "but it still pains me to leave her here like this." Mama was never meant for living in the wilderness. She missed her home and family so much, it drove her to madness. She grew distant and weak, unable to care for Lily or even herself. Finally she wandered off on a cold night and died from exposure. Even now, after almost a year without her, it was hard to believe we'd never see Mama again. Now we were going back to the place and people that Mama had loved. My heart ached that Mama couldn't go back with us. I lifted Lily up to Joshua and took my place walking beside Papa.
We were off again, heading toward Williamson, the walk I had taken every morning to go to school. After Mama couldn't be left alone, I had stopped going to school, but the teacher, Miss Becher, had boarded with us until Mama died. Then I had to stay home to care for Lily, but Miss Becher still came to our house at least once a week to help me with my studies. I wanted to stop at the school to thank Miss Becher for her help, but I knew Papa wouldn't want to wait while I talked to her. I'd have to get there before the wagon.
"Papa, may I run ahead to say good-bye to Miss Becher?"
"You'll have to be quick about it, Mem. We don't have time to stop and wait for you."
"You won't have to wait. I'll hurry." It wasn't hard to outdistance the team of oxen. With the heavy load in the wagon, they moved at a lumbering pace. I ran all the way into town and stopped just for a moment to catch my breath and smooth my hair before going to the school.
Miss Becher looked up as I opened the door. "Mem! I was hoping you'd stop by. Boys and girls, some of you may know Remembrance Nye. Her family is moving back to Connecticut today."
The faces that turned to look at me stared blankly. Most of the students I knew had moved farther west after the freezing weather we had all last summer.
Miss Becher picked up something from her desk and came toward me. "Work on your lessons, boys and girls. I'll be right back." She led me outside and handed me a slim volume bound in soft leather the color of cream. "I want you to take this journal with you, Mem. It's a place for you to write down your thoughts. I've also copied some of my favorite poems into it."
"It's beautiful," I whispered. "I should be giving you a gift to thank you for all the things you've taught me."
Miss Becher smiled. "Just seeing how eagerly you learn has been gift enough for me. I hope you won't give up your dream of becoming a teacher."
"I won't, Miss Becher. Now that we'll be living with our family, I'll be free to go to school full-time while my aunts and Grandma help take care of Lily."
We were interrupted by the rattle of wagon wheels as Papa led the team into the center of town. "I have to go," I said.
Miss Becher hugged me. "Have a safe journey, Mem. Write to me when you get settled."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After reading Journey To Nowhere & Frozen Summer, I was not disappointed by Road To Home. These three books should be reprinted in paperback, and be a part of the social studies program in every school. Life was hard for pioneers, and this was the best example of a life of hardship I have read yet. It is not a 'happily ever after' story, but I was sorry when the third book came to an end. I am recommending this trilogy to my library students.
THIS BOOK IS SUCH A GREAT BOOK I JUST LOVED IT SOMETIMES IT WANTED TO MAKE ME CRY AND THEN AGAIN I WANTED TO LAUGH! IT'S ABOUT THIS GIRL'S MOTHER DIES AND SHE HAS TO TAKE CARE OF HER EIGHT YEAR OLD BROTHER AND HER SIX MONTH OLD BABY SISTER! YOU WILL JUST HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS ABOUT!Well IF YOU READ THIS BOOK I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!