The Lost Wagon
For years, Joe Tower has worked in servitude in the Missouri farm country—first for five years to his grudging father-in-law; then as a hired man working to save a little for his own place; and now in the 1850’s on a small farm owned more by the bank than by him. When he catches a glimpse of freedom—a hope of farming his own free land in the Oregon Territory—it unfortunately makes his present plight all the more difficult to endure. Emma, the love of his life, sees his anger and frustration, but it terrifies her to think of leaving the little house she loves to take their six children into a life of uncertainty and danger. Joe resigns himself to another spring of planting. If they do not get a good crop this next year, the banker will be able to take it all, land, house, animals and even Emma’s cherished household goods. Then, as the crops are ripening, disaster strikes. Though it is late in the season to start overland, the Joe and Emma together make the difficult decision sell their land— while they still can—pack a wagon and head for Independence, Missouri—the beginning of the Oregon Trail. Fifteen-year-old Barbara quietly and willingly embraces the abrupt decision with all of its likely hardship and risk—though it means leaving an increasing number of young suitors. And her younger brother Tad, a crack shot and already getting into mischief in the too-settled area, proudly vows he will walk every step of the way. Thus does one small family in one lone wagon begin a hazardous journey into the huge undeveloped territory stretching between Missouri and the Pacific Ocean.
Jim Kjelgaard, most known for his classic animal and nature tales, renders an authentic and moving portrait of a family willing to risk everything to find a freedom in which hard work and peace of heart and mind might come together. A great book for high-school readers.
The original book has 305 pages.