City of Gold

HarperCollins/Harper­. Jul. 2020. 256p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780061708817.
Gr 4-7–Part quest and part adventure, this story of courage and resilience describes one family’s journey across Colorado in search of two stolen mules and a family’s legacy. Following the death of their father, the Hollowell family has just settled on their new farm when 15-year-old Owen discovers their two mules have been stolen. Knowing they won’t survive without livestock to plow the fields, Owen sets out to track down the rustler and bring home their beloved Hercules and Peaches. After a dangerous mountain trek, he finds himself in Telluride, the self-proclaimed “City of Gold.” With help from a colorful assortment of townsfolk, miners, a girl named Molly, and even his Wild West–loving brother Till, Owen learns the truth about the mules and the man who took them. Now all he must do is convince the town’s infamous marshal to help him catch the outlaw. Balancing a narrative packed with descriptive details and a full range of characters, including some notorious names from Wild West lore, Hobbs’s oftentimes slow trudge through the Colorado mountains is lightened by rich dialogue and the protagonists’ strong sense of purpose.
VERDICT This historical novel set in the American West touches on everything from unions and illness to xenophobia and criminality. Hobbs seamlessly surrounds the Hollowells’ quest with an authentic view of mining life at the turn of the century.

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