Gold Rush Girl by Avi

Posted February 26, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

Gold Rush Girl

Gold Rush Girl

by Avi

Publisher: Candlewick Press on March 10, 2020
Genre: Adventure, Historical Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Victoria Blaisdell longs for independence and adventure, and she yearns to accompany her father as he sails west in search of real gold! But it is 1848, and Tory isn't even allowed to go to school, much less travel all the way from Rhode Island to California. Determined to take control of her own destiny, Tory stows away on the ship. Though San Francisco is frenzied and full of wild and dangerous men, Tory finds freedom and friendship there. Until one day, when Father is in the gold fields, her younger brother, Jacob, is kidnapped. And so Tory is spurred on a treacherous search for him in Rotten Row, a part of San Francisco Bay crowded with hundreds of abandoned ships. Beloved storyteller Avi is at the top of his form as he ushers us back to an extraordinary time of hope and risk, brought to life by a heroine readers will cheer for. Spot-on details and high suspense make this a vivid, absorbing historical adventure.


Disclaimer: I received this book for free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gold Rush Girl is the type of book that I would have truly loved when I was younger.  It has a fierce girl doing whatever she needs do in order to survive and take care of her family.  It has adventure.  It has a slim of history that, for whatever reason, has not been frequently used in YA and MG novels.  In middle school and early high school, this would have been an awesome read for me.

One thing I will say for Candlewick Press is that they put out great, unique middle grade novels.

From a technical perspective, I will say that the writing style is a bit sluggish.  Avi has been around for a while and like many other things in this world, writing styles have evolved.  It’s a bit wordy and draggy, but not enough to distract heavily from the story. In fact, once things actually got going, I hardly noticed the writing style.

Gold Rush Girl took a little while to get going.  The first 50 pages or so took Tory, her father, and brother from Rhode Island to San Francisco.  In the grand scheme of things, this introduction served no overall purpose to the story other than basic background, and it was a bit of a struggle. Once the characters were settled in San Francisco, things started move along.  The beginning dragged, but the rest of the story moved along decently.

The characters were not particularly deep or complicated, but I expect that much from a middle grade novel.  They were not so flat as to make them indifferent, but they aren’t particularly exciting, either.  I think overall there’s a decent balance to them, particularly for the target age group.

What I really loved about Gold Rush Girl was the setting.  I’ve never read a book set during the California gold rush.  I thought it was fantastic to enter part of a world I have known about, but never seen in fiction – it was the reason I requested the book from Candlewick in the first place.  The setting did no let me down – San Francisco is there in all its early squalor.  My favorite bit, barely related to the story itself, was the inclusion of a map of the San Francisco coast line, including locations where ruined ships from the era have been discovered.  I am nothing if not a history nerd.

And so, with that, I would like to wholeheartedly recommend Gold Rush Girl for any middle grade reader who is interested in adventure and strong female protagonists in an historical fiction setting.  I am definitely not the target audience for Gold Rush Girl, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t delightful for its intended audience.


Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Writing: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★


Gold Rush Girl will be donated.

Despite the fact that I loved this book and thought it was delightful for what it was, I know that Gold Rush Girl is not a book for me.  I believe this is one that deserves to be in the hands of a middle grade audience.  I know I personally will not read it again, and so, it makes sense to me that this one should be donated.


What periods in history would you like to see in novels?  I’m eager for more YA andM fiction taking place in the American west – while that period of history was terrible, the setting itself is interesting and I think we can use for better narratives. What periods would you like to see?  Let me know in the comments!

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