Gold Rush — “The Oregon Trail” Series

Gold Rush cover


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

In Gold Rush by Jesse Wiley, readers take on the persona of pioneers in the California gold rush. They drive the plot and impact their chances of survival with each choice they make. It is part of the “Oregon Trail” series.

Plot Summary

Readers are the main characters in this 1851 cross-country adventure. Their fictional parents are traveling west to join the gold rush frenzy. The reader is a child with a younger brother named Benji, a dog named Tippet, a horse and a few other animals.

The reader helps make decisions to navigate the challenges of the Oregon Trail. Real-life pioneers James Beckwourth, John Bidwell and Louis Southworth appear as characters, serving as guides or fellow travelers. Beckwourth and Southworth share their unique perspectives as African American pioneers. Most pages include pixilated illustrations reminiscent of the 1985 Oregon Trail computer game.

Twenty possible endings exist. Readers may develop dysentery or suffer dehydration. Inclement weather, dangerous terrain, wild animal encounters, wrong turns, broken wagons and scarcity of resources may debilitate the travelers. Thieves and con men may leave them with nothing. Disputes or parting with other wagon train members may decrease the family’s chances of survival. Many of these events result in death. Other times, hardships force the family to return to Missouri or settle at one of the towns along the trail. Only one ending shows the reader’s family successfully reaching Sacramento, California, and completing the journey as planned.

A trail guide in the back of the book provides warnings about potential hazards. It also highlights the importance of consulting wise helpers and staying with your wagon train community.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Mama and Papa rely on the reader for help and advice on the journey. They are friendly and hardworking, and they demonstrate their ethics when they urge the reader to return a nugget of gold he or she found on someone’s land.

Profanity & Violence


Sexual Content


Discussion Topics

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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