This is one of those books from childhood that stays with you even as you become an adult. I first read Journey to Nowhere when I was eight, but would still read it today, even in my early 20s.

Written by American author Mary Jane Auch, this historical novel is set in 1815. Remembrance “Mem” Nye and her family leave Connecticut to begin a new life in the Genesee Country in Western New York State. Along the way, Mem becomes separated from her family and must find her way back to them through unfamiliar territory. The story is told in first person from eleven-year-old Mem’s perspectives.

One of the unique aspects of this book is the time period it is set in. There are plenty of novels set during the Revolutionary War, as well as novels set during the late nineteenth century, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder series. But Mem’s story takes place at a time when people were settingĀ in Western New York, before the Erie Canal was built and turned the region into a bustling commercial center. There was no electricity and the way of transportation were wagons pulled by oxen or horses. Families settled on land and built themselves cabins from the woods nearby, and children weren’t required to attend school in order to help their families plant crop.

This is easily one of my favorite books from when I was younger. One reason is because it is set in my home region of Western New York, only 200 years ago. My hometown is even mentioned in the story. I also like it because Auch is as brilliant writer. She somehow makes every word mean something in the story, with no filler or unnecessary description. It’s not only a narrative masterpiece, but a great way to learn about history and the lifestyle of the settlers. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about frontier life in Western New York.

 

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