Minnesota in 1857, a year before statehood became a fact, provides a dramatic setting for the story of two young lives struggling for a solid grip on their future, inevitably involved in the decision regarding Minnesota. There's the confused picture of the fur trade; there's the dogged attempt to build the Red River settlement (remember Vera Kelsey's stunning adult book, Red River Runs North?). There's the vital and thriving buffalo industry. Chris Boucher and Jo Tolliver realize that their futures may be determined by whether or not Minnesota is partitioned. While history is in the making, Chris puts in a tough summer of buffalo roundups (""surrounds""), as a hand in Doc Tolliver's pemmican camp. And during these months Jo Tolliver becomes increasingly wise- and increasingly tempting. The capture of horse thieves, the aid given by neighboring Sioux, the decision that eventually Chris will be a doctor in St. Paul make their contribution to a maturing process which provides its own rewards.