After the death of her two sisters, thirteen-year-old Hattie and her family make for a fresh start. They sell their farm in Missouri and journey across the Oregon Trail toward Oregon City. At first the adventure is exciting, but as the days, weeks, and months pass, Hattie realizes what a dangerous and tedious trip it is.
As they cross the prairies, news of the fate of the Donner party reaches them, and death, disease, weather, and the terrain take a terrible toll on their traveling party. The Campbells lose neighbors and friends until they almost cannot bear to continue. But Hattie and her family must persevere or risk the same misfortune.
Hattie's diary chronicles the hardships of such a harrowing journey, but also captures the small moments, the friendships and celebrations of life, that keep hope alive.