West to a Land of Plenty: The Diary of Teresa Angelino Viscardi is an entry in the Dear America series. It was published by Scholastic in March 1998. The book was written by Jim Murphy, his first in the series. It was followed by Dreams in the Golden Country, also published in March 1998.
- "For Michael with love"
- "Saturday, April 7
Mr. Anderson came to our car to talk to us right after breakfast. I thought I would dislike him immediately, but did not. He is tall and distinguished looking and seemed not to notice the smell of garlic and sausage and boiled potatoes and cabbage and onions.... Mr. Anderson introduced himself and then said, "...Each 1 of you is a pioneer in the true spirit of this country..." He told us that the "hardships of the journey will soon give way to the pleasures and pride of new homes and new lives..." I don't know about this as I was perfectly happy in my old home and old life, but Mr. Anderson has a nice voice and the Idaho Territory didn't seem so impossibly far away today...."
Fourteen-year-old Teresa Viscardi boards a train in Jersey City with her family. They are heading towards the Idaho Territory, where they plan to form a community named Opportunity with several other families and settlers. Teresa explains how three months previously, her uncle Eugenio and Nanna convinced Teresa's father to go to Idaho, despite opposition from her mother. They are all now going west along with Teresa's siblings, Antoinetta "Netta", Ernesto, and Tomas, cousin, Rosaria, and aunt, Marta.
Teresa passes the time by writing in her diary, but fails to find a good hiding spot for it from her sister, who writes in it secretly. Eventually, Teresa allows Netta to write in it, after she blackmails Teresa. The long journey comes to an end in Watertown, the last train stop. There they meet their leader William Keil, who gives a rousing speech about their new home. The Viscardi families purchase wagons and prepare for the grueling trip ahead of them.
The wagons set out towards the Idaho Territory in early May. It is a long and rough trail that Teresa and her siblings have to walk on for around ten miles a day. On the upside, Teresa meets her new friends, John Wilson Anderson and Mary Margaret Degler, and Netta meets Edi Richardson. However, everyone soon realizes the full danger of this trip, when two young girls drown, while crossing the Missouri River.
The wagon train hears news of a silver strike in the nearby Black Hills area of the Dakota Territory. Many of the men, including Teresa's father and uncle, set out to see if the rumors are true. After a few days, the Viscardi family is left behind on the trail, when some of them fall ill. Teresa and Nanna travel to Rapid City to retrieve her father and uncle. Upon returning to the wagon, they learn about the sudden death of Antoinetta and grieve, especially Teresa. Eventually, they catch up with the wagon train, heading for Opportunity.
- Main article: List of West to a Land of Plenty characters
- Teresa Angelino Viscardi, a fourteen-year-old on her way to the Idaho Territory with her family. At first, Teresa is upset to leave her friends and life behind.
- Antoinetta Viscardi, Teresa's "know-it-all" younger sister. She writes in Teresa's diary secretly, until Teresa gives her permission.
- Main article: Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy (born September 25, 1947 in Kearny, New Jersey) is an award-winning author of nonfiction and fiction books. He has authored over thirty-five books for children, young adults, and adults. The majority of his books are about American history, including two Dear America books and two My Name Is America books.
Murphy's mother, who was Italian, and her relatives served as inspiration for the Viscardi families. He "was also intrigued by the history of utopian communities in the United States and why people were so eager to join them."
- ↑ https://www.amazon.com/West-Land-Plenty-Angelino-Territory/dp/0590738887/
- ↑ West to a Land of Plenty, Jim Murphy, pages 82-83
- Interview with Jim Murphy about West to a Land of Plenty at Scholastic
- West to a Land of Plenty Discussion Guide at Scholastic