(From the publisher):
Twelve-year-old Joey Shipman, growing up in the East Texas blacklands in 1885, has more of a burden to bear than most boys his age. When his beloved Pa dies in a mysterious accident, Joey is orphaned and forced to live with his stepmother, Dulcie, and a hanger-on at the farm, a slick-talking, ingratiating live-in "cousin" of Dulcie's, named Blair Meacham. After Joey's best friend, the black farmhand Reuben, is found dead, and after Joey himself is nearly killed in a series of inexplicable "accidents," he runs away from Dulcie, who he believes is trying to get rid of him in order to inherit the Shipman farm. Taking his old horse, Taw, the clothes on his back, and a bagful of food, Joey heads to the town of Bastrop, where Beau Shipman, his only kin and a pathetic drunk, spends most of his time in the town jail. When Joey finds he is being trailed by the murderous Blair Meacham, he turns to the only people he can trust, and an unlikely bunch they are: his reluctant guardian, the whiskey-soaked Beau Shipman; Miller Dawson, an outlaw who turns out to be a friend but nothing like the Robin Hood Joey has conjured up; Alta, a San Antonio prostitute; and Alister McIntosh, a sheepman who understands Joey better than anyone.
Original title: Cloudy in the West
Genre: Fiction→ Children & Young Adult→ Historical Fiction→ United States and Canada→ Pioneers/westward Movement