by Liza Ketchum
336 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by bookRacoon

Exciting novel about a brave girl living in 19th Century San Francisco. I recommend it.


It's 1851, and twelve-year-old Amelia Forrester has just moved from the East Coast to San Francisco. She finds herself in many adventures in her resolve to support her mother and best friend - including working as a newsgirl with a gang of boys her age, a wild hot-air balloon ride, and writing and getting published in a paper.


Mrs. Forrester conceived Amelia out of wedlock, but she regrets it, and readers see just how much shame and hurt Amelia has had to endure from her old community in the East because of her parents.

When Amelia accidentally lands on the other side of the bay, she thankfully finds herself in the midst of a very loving mining community.

Spiritual Content

People are generally religious (the year being 1851), but this is not a religious book.


When Amelia first lands in San Francisco, a boy knocks her down very hard and she bangs her head on the floor. During the hot-air balloon incident, she and her friend crash and receive many cuts and bruises. A miner dies in an accident that is unspecified.

Drug and Alcohol Content

There are plenty of saloons and drinking, but not by the main characters.

Sexual Content

Nothing explicit, although Amelia writes a bit about her growing breasts (the book is in first person).

Crude or Profane Language or Content



I'm glad I read this book - Amelia, although at times reckless, shows such determination and intelligence in adapting to a new, hard life. I also learned about what mining towns must have been like in the 19th Century, and each chapter had something exciting to offer.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 11-12

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