Cover image for The road to home
The road to home
Auch, Mary Jane.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt, 2000.
Physical Description:
216 pages ; 22 cm
In 1817, after her mother has died and her father abandoned his children, thirteen-year-old Mem searches for a new home for Joshua, herself, and their little sister.
General Note:
Concluding book in the trilogy that comprises: Journey to nowhere and Frozen summer.
Reading Level:
690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.9 7.0 43422.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.4 12 Quiz: 22169 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Following Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer , this is the third novelin a powerful American pioneer trilogy. "I knew I couldn't count on Papa any more, because no matter what he promised, he wasn't reliable. But he had given me enough money to provide us food and shelter for a week. I held in my hand the power to get us home." Since her mother passed away, thirteen year old Remembrance "Mem" Nye is looking forward to the comfort of her grandmother's arms, and help in caring for her two younger siblings. But when her family's covered wagon reaches Rome, New York, just as the digging of the Erie Canal gets under way, Mem's father decides to delay their journey home to join the canal crew.Soon it becomes apparent that Papa has no intention of making the rest of the trip to Connecticut, or of watching over his family. Mem resolves to take the children to Connecticut herself - even if it means traveling by foot with very limited funds. Will the challenges be too much for even Mem's courageous spirit?Mary Jane Auch brings her gripping pioneer trilogy to a satisfying close in this realistic portrayal of a brave young woman's struggle during a difficult period in history.

Author Notes

As a child, Mary Jane Auch loved books and read constantly. Her interest in drawing began as a child and continued through high school. She went on to become an art major at Skidmore College. After graduation, Auch went for New York City, but after a year of designing prints for men's pajamas, she decided she wanted to do something more meaningful with her life. She enrolled in the Occupational Therapy program at Columbia University, and worked for some years in a children's hospital near Hartford, Connecticut.

Eventually, Auch began illustrating for Pennywhistle Press, a national children's newspaper, which led to an interest in illustrating children's books. In the summer of 1984, Auch took a week-long children's writing conference on Cape Cod. Auch finally knew that she wanted to a writer when an instructor told her that sometimes artists find they can paint better pictures with words.

She began sending manuscripts to publishers, writing four novels before she sold the first one. She then sold a second book to another publisher the same week. She continued writing books for older kids, abandoning her dream of illustrating for a while. After writing nine books, she wrote and illustrated The Easter Egg Farm, and has done both ever since.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. This sequel to the well-received Journey to Nowhere (1997) and Frozen Summer (1998) finds 13-year-old Mem Nye, her younger brother, toddler sister, and father leaving their homestead cabin to go back to Connecticut. Mama is dead, their farm a failure, and Mem wants nothing more than to get back to her grandmother and the rest of her mother's family. When they reach Rome, New York, her father decides to become a digger on the Erie Canal, and the children are put up in a boarding house run by Maude Tucker, who starts out by being Mem's nemesis, but becomes the children's savior. Auch does an excellent job of portraying the whole range of Mem's feelings: her longing for a home, her anger at her diffident, whisky-drinking father, her determination to get her siblings back to Connecticut. The emotional story is juxtaposed with all sorts of adventures and events, many unexpected, that keep the action fresh and moving at all times. Fans of the previous books will be eager to learn what happens to Mem, but this well-researched story, with plenty of history about the work on the Erie Canal, also stands alone. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

The ill-starred pioneer family of Mary Jane Auch's Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer returns in The Road to Home. This installment, set in 1817, finds 13-year-old Remembrance Nye leading her younger siblings back from upstate New York to their grandmother's house in Connecticut. (Holt, $16.95 ages 9-12 ISBN 0-8050-4921-5; July) A companion to Steal Away Home, Lois Ruby's Soon Be Free alternates between a present-day mystery set in a bed-and-breakfast and a historical adventure about a 13-year-old boy who aids four runaway slaves in 1857. (S&S, $17 ages 8-12 ISBN 0-689-83266-4; Aug.) THE TEDDY BEARS' PICNIC Jimmy Kennedy, illus. by Alexandra Day. S&S/Aladdin, $5.99 ISBN 0-689-83530-2. ~ The illustrator of Good Dog, Carl creates a cozy woodland gathering of cuddly bears, inspired by a favorite song. Ages 3-6. (June) BLAZE FINDS THE TRAIL C.W. Anderson. S&S/Aladdin, $4.99 ISBN 0-689-83520-5. ~ Originally published in 1950, this story of Billy and his adventures exploring the forest with his pony is available in paperback for the first time, complete with colorized cover art. Three more Blaze books previously available only in hardcover will follow. Ages 5-8. (July) ~ SECRET LETTERS FROM 0 TO 10 Susie Morgenstern, trans. by Gill Rosner. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130819-2. ~ "Set in France and wrought with energy and wit, this chronicle of a deprived young man whose life is turned topsy-turvy with a new neighbor's arrival is not to be missed," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) THE BOXES William Sleator. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130810-9. ~ This tale of a girl who, like Pandora, is given not one but two boxes she is forbidden to open, is filled with the author's "signature high-style ick and suspense," said PW. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) THE MARVELOUS MISADVENTURES OF SEBASTIAN Lloyd Alexander. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130816-8. ~ Spiced with the author's unique brand of wit, this winner of the 1971 National Book Award follows a young adventurer with good intentions through disaster after disaster. Ages 10-14. (July) REACHING DUSTIN Vicki Grove. Puffin, $5.99 ISBN 0-698-11839-1. ~ PW called this "a heartfelt story that unmasks the vulnerabilities of two preadolescents from very different walks of life." Ages 10-up. (Aug.) SOMEONE LIKE YOU Sarah Dessen. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130269-0. ~ PW said this "realistic portrayal of contemporary teens and their moral challenges breathes fresh life into well-worn themes of rebellion and first love." Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Auch completes the story of Remembrance Nye, which she began in Journey to Nowhere (1997). In Frozen Summer (1998, both Holt), Mem's mother died, leaving her with the care of young Joshua and Lily. Now 13, Mem sets out on the road back to Connecticut with her father, brother, and baby sister. Their father proves to be the sort of man who cannot assume responsibility for anyone but himself and, when the family reaches Rome, NY, the lure of fast money and the excitement of working on the Erie Canal project take precedence over the welfare of his children. Mem is left in charge, living at a small tavern in town while Papa moves out to the construction site. Prickly, proper, and often hard to like, the teen decides to return to her mother's family with her siblings, without their father's help. She foolishly attempts the trip on foot with no food or provisions, and after much hardship, turns back. While the denouement is rather contrived, Mem is a clearly defined character, yearning for education and adult guidance. Filled with action, adventure, and lots of solid historical detail, the book stands well on its own. A useful addition to collections where historical fiction is popular and where westward expansion is part of the curriculum.-Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



One "Mem!" Papa called. "If we don't get on the road, we won't even make Canandaigua by nightfall." I looked around our homestead--a rough log cabin in a clearing carved out of the forest. When Mama died last summer, Papa promised me we could go back home to our family in Connecticut. Since that day I had thought of nothing but getting away from this place that had brought us so much heartache. But now that we were leaving, my feet felt rooted to the ground. "Let me check the cabin one more time, Papa. I want to make sure we haven't forgotten anything." It seemed strange for me to be responsible for doing the checking. When we left Connecticut the spring before last, Mama had been the one to count and recount every item to be packed, as Papa was too filled with the excitement of our wilderness adventure to pay attention to details. I had been only eleven then and not very helpful to Mama. But now it fell to me to make sure everything was loaded and ready to go. I climbed the ladder to the loft that had been my sleeping place. I knew I wouldn't find anything. The only furniture had been my bed and dresser, and Papa had put them on the wagon this morning while I swept the last traces of us from the floors. The family who had bought our land would arrive tomorrow. I hoped this place would bring them more happiness than it had us. "Hurry, Mem! Papa wants to leave." My younger brother, Joshua, had climbed the ladder. "You're supposed to be watching Lily," I said. I looked over his shoulder and saw Lily sitting on the dirt floor below. It was a little over a year ago that I had watched Lily's birth from this very spot. I hadn't known at the time that I would be more of a mother to her than Mama. "Mem," Joshua insisted. "We're all ready except for you. Papa says we can get peppermint sticks at the store in Canandaigua if we get there before it closes." "I wondered what had you so all-fired anxious to get going." Joshua was usually the one who dallied when we were trying to go somewhere. I followed him down the ladder, picked up Lily, and took one last look inside the cabin before I pulled the door shut. Joshua had already climbed onto the wagon seat when I got there. I had started to hand Lily up to him when I felt something stop me. "Couldn't we go to Mama's grave before we leave, Papa?" Papa put his arm around me. "We said our good-byes last night, Mem. You know your mama's in heaven, not buried back in that grave. You'll see more of your mama in your grandma's eyes than you will in a mound of dirt with her name on a marker." "I know you're right," I said, "but it still pains me to leave her here like this." Mama was never meant for living in the wilderness. She missed her home and family so much, it drove her to madness. She grew distant and weak, unable to care for Lily or even herself. Finally she wandered off on a cold night and died from exposure. Even now, after almost a year without her, it was hard to believe we'd never see Mama again. Now we were going back to the place and people that Mama had loved. My heart ached that Mama couldn't go back with us. I lifted Lily up to Joshua and took my place walking beside Papa. We were off again, heading toward Williamson, the walk I had taken every morning to go to school. After Mama couldn't be left alone, I had stopped going to school, but the teacher, Miss Becher, had boarded with us until Mama died. Then I had to stay home to care for Lily, but Miss Becher still came to our house at least once a week to help me with my studies. I wanted to stop at the school to thank Miss Becher for her help, but I knew Papa wouldn't want to wait while I talked to her. I'd have to get there before the wagon. "Papa, may I run ahead to say good-bye to Miss Becher?" "You'll have to be quick about it, Mem. We don't have time to stop and wait for you." "You won't have to wait. I'll hurry." It wasn't hard to outdistance the team of oxen. With the heavy load in the wagon, they moved at a lumbering pace. I ran all the way into town and stopped just for a moment to catch my breath and smooth my hair before going to the school. Miss Becher looked up as I opened the door. "Mem! I was hoping you'd stop by. Boys and girls, some of you may know Remembrance Nye. Her family is moving back to Connecticut today." The faces that turned to look at me stared blankly. Most of the students I knew had moved farther west after the freezing weather we had all last summer. Miss Becher picked up something from her desk and came toward me. "Work on your lessons, boys and girls. I'll be right back." She led me outside and handed me a slim volume bound in soft leather the color of cream. "I want you to take this journal with you, Mem. It's a place for you to write down your thoughts. I've also copied some of my favorite poems into it." "It's beautiful," I whispered. "I should be giving you a gift to thank you for all the things you've taught me." Miss Becher smiled. "Just seeing how eagerly you learn has been gift enough for me. I hope you won't give up your dream of becoming a teacher." "I won't, Miss Becher. Now that we'll be living with our family, I'll be free to go to school full-time while my aunts and Grandma help take care of Lily." We were interrupted by the rattle of wagon wheels as Papa led the team into the center of town. "I have to go," I said. Miss Becher hugged me. "Have a safe journey, Mem. Write to me when you get settled." Excerpted from The Road to Home by Mary Jane Auch All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.