The year is 1845, when eleven-year-old Ben finds out that he and his family are going to make the long and difficult trip from Missouri to the Oregon Territory. Unfortunately, he believes it his fault — his doctor says that the air in the West would be better for his severe asthma. Wracked with guilt, he also blames himself for the hardships his family will have to endure along the way, including bears, snakes, and hunger. On the expedition, a man named Pete becomes Ben's mentor, helping him understand that everyone has fears. Most importantly, Pete gives Ben the strength and courage he needs to live with and accept his asthma. This is a compelling story about westward travel, as well a boy's internal struggle and journey to self-discovery.