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Answer Creek

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  293 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Starvation. Desperation. Madness. Shadowing the Donner Party as they trek west on the Oregon–California Trail, Answer Creek chronicles one young woman’s descent into depravity as she risks everything—values, faith, reputation, and every last coin sewn into the hem of her skirt—for the mirage of a better life in California.

From the award-winning author of Eliza Waite comes
Paperback, 344 pages
Published May 19th 2020 by She Writes Press (first published March 19th 2020)
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
The story of the Donner Party and anything related to the Oregon Trail have always intrigued me.

Ada Weeks is only nineteen-years old when she travels to California along the trail in 1846. She’s traveling with eighty-one others in the Donner Party. They are stranded at the lake in the dense and hazardous Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is winter, and they experience one blizzard after another. They begin eating their supplies. It’s all they can do when they run out of food.

Ada is a character I imme
I remember first hearing about the Donner party in school during history class and being horrified at the lengths they went to simply survive. Answer Creek is a fictionalized account of the Donner party and one of the survivors. I love stories about pioneers and this book ranks up at the top for me. I loved reading Ada’s story! Ashley Sweeney has written a fascinating story of hope and resilience of the human spirit.
Eldonna Edwards
I am in awe of the way author Ashley Sweeney weaved well-researched history and an extraordinary talent for language to create a story that takes you back to a time when people literally followed their dreams in hopes of a better life. I've long been intrigued by the story of the Donner Party; I live just a handful of hours south of the infamous Donner Pass in in Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. You should know that Answer Creek is not a gratuitous novel, dwelling on the gruesome deta ...more
Karren  Sandercock
In 1846, nineteen year old Ada Weeks sets off on a 2,200 mile trek to California with her adopted parents Augustus and Inger Vik. No amount of planning could prepare Ada for the hardships she will face traveling along the overland trail, she will be tested to the absolute limit of her endurance and mental toughness. She will have to walk the entire way, her boots will wear out, she will be hot, sweaty, sun burnt, bruised, bitten by insects, sick, hungry and face death and danger every single day ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Ashley E. Sweeney recreates a cross-continental journey that makes social distancing and being in lock-down at home feel luxurious. Answer Creek is about endurance and survival.

Set in 1846-7 on the California-Oregon trail, the novel tells the story of Ada who travels across the continent with the Donner-Reed party.

Yes, the infamous, ill-fated, starving cannibals of history.

After the tragic death of Ada's parents, she was taken in by a Norwegian family who decide to move to California. Early in
Bambi Rathman
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
""Wagons, HO!" is the rallying cry at dawn, and again after nooning. "Gee, haw, walk on, steady now," these, too, are trail words." Oh, the hopes and dreams the pioneers who embarked on the Oregon-California trail had. The visions of the "promised land" that swirled in their minds as they packed their lives and treasured possessions into covered wagons. Along with all the possible foods and supplies they should need to make the 2,200 mile trek. They are aware of the dangers and hazards but there ...more
Susan Peterson
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Answer Creek is a compelling story of one woman’s journey from Indiana to California as a member of the fated Donner party. Ada Weeks’
story is filled with danger, adventure, tragedy, and deprivation—but it is also a story of courage, strength, and hope. The author did an amazing job of putting the reader in the middle of this trek, feeling the desperation of the travelers, tasting the dirt and sand, shivering along with them as they become entrenched in the cold and the snow. Ada is an inspirat
Ada Weeks has already had a rough start at life, and now it is being uprooted again. But this time, it is to head west to the land or promise and opportunities. California. She has nothing to leave behind and nothing to lose, so off they head. Everything packed in a wagon, and the clothing on their backs.

Although it takes time to get used to the walking and making of camp each night, the wagon train all gets into a rhythm. There are leads who are deciding the best route, women who are mostly in
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Answer Creek tells the story of Ada Weeks, a fictional 19-year-old adopted daughter of an undertaker and his wife, who treks across the United States with the fated (and real) Donner Party.

If you know anything about the Donner Party, you have a good overview of what happens in this book, although it goes on to also include what happens after the survivors arrive in California. (And if you're not familiar with it, a quick skim on Wikipedia will come in handy.) Based on my own reading about the D
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Answer Creek follows the journey of Ava Weeks, a 19-year old women who is part of the Donner Party as they trek across the western plains from Indiana to California in 1846. Most people are familiar with the true story and how they got trapped in the mountains by early hard winter conditions, facing starvation and freezing living conditions for months. Many did not survive. Although the author uses the real names of the people involved and follows the facts of the journey, Ava is a fictional cha ...more
Tammy Pasterick
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such an incredible book! Ashley Sweeney brings the Donner Party's arduous journey along the Oregon-California Trail to life through the eyes of nineteen-year-old Ada Weeks. Unlike so many stories of westward expansion that are told through the eyes of men, this gripping novel pays tribute to the contributions and sacrifices women made during these migrations.

Ada and her female companions are tasked with cooking, dishwashing, childrearing, and laundry—all while walking 2,000 miles across
Jill Robbertze
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written and well researched historical novel that was gripping through to the end. A heartbreaking story inspired by fact, that is awe-inspiring but shocking for what these families endured in their epic journey as they trekked on the Oregon trail through unimaginable hardships towards a new life in California. Sadly many perrished along the way. Lovely descriptions and interesting characters in addition to the captivating story made this an excellent read.
Rachel Sargeant
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars, 2020
I don’t read much historical fiction, but when I do, I really enjoy it!
So this is a work of fiction based on true events. The cast of characters is huge, and it took me sometime to get to grips with everyone. Even then, I was confused at the end when they talked about the survivors as I thought one/some of them had died.
A slow burner but a truly harrowing tale. Highly recommend! I’m gonna miss you Ada.

Ps. I’d love a sequel and insight into what happened next given the find at the end of the b
Jill Miclean
My mom is related to Virginia Reed through her "Grandma Keyes" and I grew up in the San Jose bay area where many of the Donner Party survivors settled so I am always drawn to stories that include the Donner Party. This one is told in three parts through the eyes of the fictional character Ada Weeks. The first part was extremely slow and plodding, very similar to the immigrants actual journey over the prairies. Members of the Donner party float in and out of Ada's daily life with a focus on The B ...more
Janis Daly
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction and women's fiction fans
Recommended to Janis by: ARC from publisher
My feet are sore. My lips are cracked. My stomach yearns. My bones rattle. My eyes freeze. My body aches. My skin burns. My heart weakens. I have walked over two thousand miles from Missouri to California. I have walked in Ada Weeks’ worn boots, with their soles flapping against dust-filled, wagon-rutted paths. I have walked in the boots Ada removed from a dead man to trudge through snow drifts up to her chest.

Ashley Sweeney’s talent to dig deep and pull forth the physical and emotional aspects
Mar 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a solid four stars until that last chapter. The book would have been better if Sweeney had simply left it off. The penultimate chapter provided sufficient resolution to make the story complete.
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. The only reason being that I had read another book that is along the same lines as this one. The wagon train from Missouri to California. While this one is quite a bit different and delves into things that the other did not, both are great books. This book literally had me holding my breath in places.

What would you do to survive? To live or allow others to live. When you are surrounded by death everyday and have such limited choices. What w
Randee Green
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It is the first thing that nearly everyone thinks about when they hear about the ill-fated Donner Party who got trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the winter of 1846-1847 while traveling overland on the Oregon-California Trail. Had the Donner Party just stuck to the established route, they probably would have reached California without mishap—aside from the usual misfortunes that plagued wagon trains traveling west. Instead, the Donner Party opted to take the Hastings Cuto
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Sweeney takes on the tale of the ill fated Donner Party with her latest novel focusing on a young woman named Ada Weeks – her story is ficticious but she is placed in the midst of the real life travelers in that wagon train heading West. Ada had been adopted after her parents died in a fire and her new family has decided they want to head to California for a new life. She doesn’t know much about this new place to where they are going but she has heard that grapes will grow there and she is l ...more
Karen Klink
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must let everyone know that Ashley Sweeney is a friend of mine.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, friend or no, this is a wonderful novel that I found difficult to put down. I enjoyed it more than her first, "Eliza Waite", which won several awards. Thank goodness, because it would have been embarrassing to write a bad review, but I needn't have worried! If any of you are old enough to recall that series, Wagon Train, this was more accurate and much more interesting. So real and detailed
Linda Weber
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent fictional story based on the journey of the ill-fated Donner Party as they attempted to travel from Independence, MO to California on the Oregon-California Trail in 1846. I thank the author, Ashley E. Sweeney, for sharing a copy of her book with me.

The subject of pioneer emigration west during this time has always intrigued me. The tragic documentation of events that happened to this particular party always left me with a sick feeling. The author has done a wonderful job re
There were a number of reviews that were rated higher than this one, but I had a hard time getting into the story. The story of the Donner party and their historical journey to California has been told multiple times. The first third of the story was rather boring to me, there wasn't a lot of connection to the characters and it was rather mundane. Whether or not the author was trying to portray that as how life would be on the trail, mundane, repetitious, and disjointed, I'm not sure.
I found th
Rebecca D’Harlingue
I read a lot of historical fiction, but I don't think I have ever read a novel that did a better job of putting me in a time and place. The main character, Ada Weeks, is on the trail from Independence, MO to California, and we are with her every step of the way. When I was reading this book, I realized that, when thinking about those who did this trek, I subconsciously assumed that there must have been something that would make the journey possible, something that I couldn't think of, but that t ...more
Elizabeth Wood
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Answer Creek grabbed me immediately and didn't let go until the very end. It begins with a tragedy that drew me immediately to the side of Ada, the main character, and I felt like I walked with her every step of her journey. Knowing a bit of the history upon which the novel is based (the ill-fated Donner-Reed emigrant party), I didn't expect surprises or suspense, and yet I experienced both. Sweeney wrote starkly beautiful scenes in places where I didn't expect them and drew out suspense by reve ...more
Stina Hughes
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I approached Answer Creek with a bit of trepidation because I knew a bit about the story of the Donner party. I knew it was going to get kind of ticklish for me. But, I had read Ashley Sweeney's prior novel, Eliza Waite, and had loved that book, so I dove in. I told myself that the author would treat that subject matter thoughtfully and she had.

Main character, Ada, was thrust into an entirely life-changing trip, losing her adoptive parents at the very beginning of the story. Thus, she must esta
3.5 stars. I think this was a realistic and gritty account of what members of the infamous Donner Party suffered as they traversed the west, and ultimately became stuck in the Sierra Nevada. The descriptions of the scenery, as well as the suffering drew me in to the characters' plight. The author made a good choice to invent a character to be her protagonist, while surrounding her with historical figures. I think it gave her freedom to create a story within a historical context, while at the sam ...more
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book intrigued me as having grown up in Northern Nevada, my middle school history lessons covered both the 40 Mile Desert and The Donner Party. Ashley Sweeney, once again, created an incredible story of not only resilience, but also the power of mind over body in an upmost trying time. Ashley hit the nail on the head with being able to capture moments of pure splendor as well as inconceivable deprivation. The visions cycling through my minds eye while reading Adas’ story will be forever ing ...more
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Novel of yesterday's reality.

This historical novel is a not put down! It seems like the most real account of wagon train life that I have ever seen or read. No detail of trail life is spared, yet it is not a tedious day by day account. The writer cleverly uses letters and diary excerpts , woven together with Ada's dramatic moments and personal accounts of other pioneers accidents and travails. Cleverly, it is all stitched together to give you a nail-biting read! However, it also challenges you
Ellen Notbohm
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With faultlessly authentic period detail and relentless, riveting twists of fate, Answer Creek puts the reader right on the Oregon-California Trail with the Donner Party in every sensory and emotional aspect imaginable. This compassionate but utterly realistic telling of the story gently crushes the sensationalized versions and releases something that feels much closer to truth. Ada Weeks is a nineteen-year-old adoptee, orphaned for a second time in the opening scene of the book in a crushing tw ...more
Laurie Enos
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I just went on a cross country trip with Ada in 1846. Ada is on the Oregon trail headed to California from Indiana. This life changing journey is full of friendships, heartache, despair, tragedy, grit and determination.

I enjoyed reading this, but did feel it lagged at times. I also wish the author let us experience Ada's happiness a bit more once she found it at the end. I feel like the reader needs to know she is going to be ok before the book cover is closed.

I recommend this to anyone who en
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