The second installment of a frontier trilogy that began with Auch's Journey to Nowhere (1997) is the vivid story of courageous Mem Nye, who faces responsibilities that would tax a strong adult. n the Genesee Country of western New York, where the Nyes moved from Connecticut to make a decent living farming, the planting and growing season of 1816 has been plagued by unexpected frosts. One after another of Papa's corn plantings turns black; he's out of seed and nearly out of resources. Far worse than the crops is Mama's mental state; after giving birth to a child she doesn't even name, she slips into homesickness and depression, and abandons all maternal and domestic responsibilities. Mere names the baby Lily, shoulders Mama's chores and her own, and attempts to keep up with her studies and her dream of becoming a schoolteacher. Papa, hoping to keep the family's troubles private, becomes increasingly taciturn, and is angry when Mere writes her grandmother for help. Tragedy all but inevitably strikes when Mama and Lily disappear into the bitterly cold countryside, where Mama dies. Mem comes through it all and proves an even stronger character than she seemed in the previous book, facing her work with plenty of worry, but very matter of fact about the necessity of toiling on. Readers will have to wait for the third book to see if the surprising outcome--Papa plans to return to Connecticut--holds, making this a refreshing, highly realistic entry in pioneer fiction.