Susanna, her parents, and her sister set sail from the U.S. east coast to the west in hopes to reunite with family in Oregon. However, on their voyage, their mother is taken by the sea when a giant wave sweeps upon deck. Susanna, her father, and sister are devastated by their loss, but must continue on. When they finally make it to the coast, the girls’ father, a doctor, decides to stay in California awhile in this midst of the gold rush, in hopes of trying out the rugged lifestyle and striking gold. The girls must adjust to life in a rather crude and makeshift town in a land without law, which is full of rough men and criminals. Memorable scenes include an invasion from a bear, and the injured boy whose life is saved by Susanna and her father, and whom Susanna grows to love. This book is educational and well-written.