One More River to Cross By Jane Kirkpatrick

To say I am an avid fan of Jane Kirkpatrick is putting it mildly! I have loved all her books but she really out did herself this time! Her detail (as always) to research is impeccable. What I find remarkable is her ability to understand and capture the emotions and physical details of the people involved to the point the story does not appear as historical fiction but a personal account of the characters.
The 1800’s was a time when settlers were heading west for the promise of better more prosperous lives. These brave men, women and children had no idea what danger or difficulties lied ahead, all they saw was their dream. In 1844 the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend left Missouri to travel over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to California. As they reach the mountain range snow begins to fall and the trip becomes a race against time to before severe winter weather sets in. The decision is made to divide up into 3 groups. One will stay in a crude built shelter and protect supplies until the others return in the spring. As the remaining 2 groups move on, they realize the way is impassable for the wagons. A second larger crude shelter is built and the women and children are left as the third group forges on to California to bring back a rescue party.
As I read I thought about how my impressions of these westward settlers pretty much came from the show Wagon Train. Boy was I misguided! The hardships these people faced are unbelievable! The constant fear of death or loss of a loved one was a part of life. The lack of food and starvation was an endless reminder of their mortality. It is one thing to be hungry yourself, but to have small children with nothing to eat is another. Can you imagine giving your children animal hides to chew on hoping there would be some sustenance? Mothers who bore children on the journey even feared they would not have breast milk for their babies to survive.
And the cold, oh the cold! Fire didn’t do much to warm you and about the only thing between you and the elements was a crude structure that had snow and wind blowing through the cracks. I don’t do well with frosty weather, and Ms. Kirkpatrick’s descriptions their battle against frigid temperatures was so vivid I found trouble keeping warm!
What I found truly amazing was their perseverance, ingenuity, and courage. People from all nationalities and walks of life worked together without pettiness or irritation even during the worst of times. Instead of whining and dragging each other down, they uplifted and encouraged one another. No one belly-upped and quit in the face of their suffering which is what I am sure I would have done! A remarkable book you want to read! I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.


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