Cover image for Away to the goldfields!
Away to the goldfields!
Derby, Pat.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, [2004]

Physical Description:
248 pages ; 22 cm
Yearning for adventure and tired of farm life in New Hampshire, sixteen-year-old Mary Margaret Malarkey journeys to California in 1848 to find her father who arrived earlier to make his fortune in the goldfields.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.5 9.0 84345.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Some things are more precious than gold Stubborn, spirited Molly Malarky embarks on a life-altering adventure as she and her brother flee their miserable New Hampshire farm on the trail of their widower father, who abandoned them during the first months of the California gold rush. Traveling from Boston, to Panama, across the isthmus, and up the Pacific coast, they find that no part of the journey is easy. Cheats and scalawags abound, the distances are enormous, and unhealthy conditions are inescapable. And for a young woman trying to make headway alongside hundreds of desperate men -- her greedy, bad-tempered, and chauvinistic brother included -- the journey is overwhelming. In this stirring historical story, resourceful Molly is never defeated as she heads west to stake a claim that is bigger and more personal than she ever imagined.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-8. In 1853, 16-year-old Molly Malarky is left to care for her family's "poor, rocky New Hampshire farm" with her older brother, Malachy. Their mother died long ago, and their father, consumed by gold rush fever, has departed for California. Malachy is fonder of gambling and drinking than farmwork, and survival seems tenuous. Then a letter arrives asking Malachy to join their father in California, and Molly, knowing that irresponsible, illiterate Malachy may not survive the journey on his own, accompanies him. It's Molly's ingenuity that sees the siblings through the long, grueling trip from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans, passing overland through Panama. The story's pacing is uneven; logistical details bog down the adventure and leave less room for emotional exploration of the characters. But Derby writes an intriguing historical adventure, peopled with colorful supporting characters and a passionately independent young heroine who actively questions the available roles for women of her time. For related reading, suggest Susannah Fairchild's Seeds of Hope: The Gold Rush Diary of Kristiana Gregory 0 (2001). --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2004 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Resourceful, independent 16-year-old Molly Malarkey and her 18-year-old brother are left alone on the family's hardscrabble New Hampshire farm when their father and older brother take off to follow dreams of riches in the gold rush. After receiving a letter from Pa, the siblings set out for California, and what follows is a hard, dirty journey, but also one of self-discovery for Molly. As they travel by ship to Panama, then across the isthmus to another vessel to San Francisco, Molly tries to take charge of the irresponsible Malachi, who is always gambling and getting into trouble. She has the great fortune to find adult mentors who help her reach her destination. Although she never tracks down her disreputable family, she makes loyal friends, including a young man whom she may-or may not-marry. The end of the story is actually a beginning for Molly in her quest to find what she wants out of life. This is an engrossing adventure with an attractive heroine. Although villains abound, readers are left with a feeling of hope for her future.-Cynthia M. Sturgis, Ledding Library, Milwaukie, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.