Seventeen-year-old Lovisa King comes of age on the Oregon Trail as her family travels from Missouri to the Oregon Territory. Based on the history of a company of real pioneers, A Heart for Any Fate: Westward to Oregon, 1845 tells the story of the King family, whose careful plans are challenged by the harsh, unforeseen realities of overland travel. The Kings make the unfortunate decision to follow guide Stephen Meek, who leads them into blistering weather, drought, and treacherous river crossings along the Terrible Trail. A Heart for Any Fate will be released in conjunction with Oregon’s 150th birthday. Originally published by the Oregon Historical Society, this new edition will include the history of the real King family and a forward written by Jennifer Armstrong.
“A Heart for Any Fate does exactly what we want historical fiction to do. After painstaking research and with a keen eye for detail, Linda Crew brings the populated past to vibrant life. The extended King family, setting off for Oregon in 1845, come completely to life on the page, each one an individual, each one someone the reader cares about. The author magnificently tells the large story of the perilous trek west, and within it the small stories of a family, their squabbles and triumphs and heartbreaks. Such fiction makes the past come alive for the young reader by creating characters with personalities that we understand and know.” — Lois Lowry, Newbery Medalist, Oregon Book Award Judge
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“In the spring of 1845, the King family of Carroll County, Missouri, loaded five covered wagons and set out for Oregon. Historical records tell us the route they chose.” In this richly detailed novel that originally appeared in 2005, Crew creates a riveting, fictional story from the bare facts of an extended family’s grueling journey across the Continental Divide. Illness and death claim some members, and grief and sorrow temper the survivors’ jubilation when they finally reach the promised Eden in Oregon. Seventeen-year-old Lovisa narrates in a wholly believable voice filled with period colloquialisms (including a few derogatory references to Indians). While some readers may be slowed by the wealth of thoroughly researched particulars, others will be fascinated by each scene that vividly evokes a young woman’s daily life on the trail. Readers, along with Lovisa’s family and friends, will recognize love brewing long before she does, and her marriage forms a warm coda to the exhausting journey. A comprehensive foreward and afterword (with photos) complete this accomplished story that will easily find a place in the curriculum. Grades 6-10.
–Gillian Engberg, Editorial Director of Books for Youth
Take your class aboard a covered wagon and head west with Lovisa King in A Heart for Any Fate. Seventeen-year-old Lovisa sets out on the Oregon Trail in 1845 with three generations of her Missouri family in tow. Optimistic and eager, Lovisa is sure her family’s preparation and determination will protect them from the catastrophic hardships endured by previous travelers. But the path is wild, and the King family soon discovers that supplies can be scarce, directions can be misleading, and mistakes can be fatal. Based on actual accounts from historic pioneer trail journals, A Heart for Any Fate will encourage students to reflect on this significant time in American history while drawing parallels with events in their own lives.
Topics: Mid-19th Century American History, Oregon Trail, American Pioneers, Understanding Self and Others, Coming of Age, Teamwork and Cooperation, Trust, Overcoming Obstacles, Friendship/Family/Relationships
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction