Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

September 22, 2010

The Water Seeker

By Kimberly Willis Holt
Era: mid-1800's America, Oregon Trail
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

In this epic story, we follow Amos from birth until adulthood, from Missouri to Oregon.  Amos is first raised by his uncle and aunt, after his mother dies giving birth to him.  His father visits once per year briefly, in between his trapping visits.  But when Amos is 8, his father Jake and new wife, a Shoshone Indian named Blue Owl, come to claim him.  Jake is now going to travel west, using his handed down skill of "dowsing"--being able to find water nearby or underground with a stick--as a job.  Amos has also inherited this skill, but since Jake only speaks of it with dislike, he never mentions his ability.  At first Amos is resentful, but eventually he comes to accept his traveling life.  Then everything changes when he turns 14 and Jake signs on to be a scout for a wagon train of emigrants heading out to the Oregon Territory.  On this 2,000 mile journey, friendships and love will be found, but also there will be accidents, loss and hardship before the last steps are taken.   Readers will be fascinated by the historical details and the amazing risks that people were willing to take to cross this country with nothing but a wagon and a pair of oxen and an uncertain future on the other side.  Interesting reading!