Denise M. Wilms

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 162

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Rigors of the trail are the storytelling mainstay for Levitin's re-creation of the Bidwell—Bartleson expedition [in The No-Return Trail]…. The reactions of … Nancy Kelsey provide emotional substance as she watches the struggling group dwindle and worries over her strained relationship with husband Ben. The mood is generally intense, particularly near the conclusion when illness and approaching winter threaten to finish the weakened travelers. A sober undertone encourages respect for the enormity of the task these settlers undertook. Nancy Kelsey is said to be the first white woman to travel overland to California. It's unfortunate that occasional derogatory references to Indians—indigenous to these Kentuckian's views—aren't offset by multidimensional portrayals of the not-always-hostile Indian groups encountered along the trail. Absorbing, if conventional, historical fiction in spite of the ethnic omission. (pp. 1618-19)

Denise M. Wilms, "Children's Books: 'The No-Return Trail'," in Booklist (reprinted by permission of the American Library Association; copyright 1978 by the American Library Association), Vol. 74, No. 20, June 15, 1978, pp. 1618-19.


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