During the early years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of the church members were forced to flee their homes to escape mob persecution. They traveled across the country with handcarts or covered wagons and made their home in the Salt Lake Valley, in the region that would become the state of Utah. They faced perils along the way, many dying from accident, disease, or hunger. “Jud’s Journey,” while a fictional young adult novel, is an accurate depiction of what many of those early Saints had to face.
Jud is the only son and the middle child in his family. His father, Len, is a stern and unwavering man whose sole focus is on getting his family to the Valley. Jud wishes that his father could be a little more understanding and a little less harsh.
When Callie, Jud’s little sister dies, Len becomes even more distant. Jud can’t understand why his father would seem to be so uncaring about something as tragic as the death of a member of their family, but Len doesn’t seem capable of showing emotion.
Len takes Jud out hunting, and a terrible storm comes up. Jud is separated from his father and is buried in a stand of falling trees. As the wind dies down, Jud fights his way free of his prison to discover that his father, and his horse, are nowhere to be found. Having to rely on his own resourcefulness, Jud finds food and begins to make his way back to the wagon trail, befriending an orphaned Indian boy and girl along the way.
I liked this telling of the pioneer story from the teenage perspective. I did think there were some passages that could have flowed a little better, but overall, the story held my interest and I enjoyed it.
(This book was published in 2004 by American Publishing.)