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Dear America Wiki

""What about me?" I must have said it in a whisper because Poppa had to ask me what I said. "Me," I repeated a little louder, my voice shaking. "What about me? It's always Momma this, or Ernesto that, or Nanna or Netta or Uncle Eugenio this and that...everyone but me.""
Teresa Viscardi[2]

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.

Teresa Viscardi travels from New York to the Idaho Territory with her parents, three siblings, and extended family.


"For Michael with love"

Book description[]

"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.


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of West to a Land of Plenty characters


Main article: Jim Murphy

James "Jim" Murphy was an award-winning author of nonfiction and fiction books. He 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."



See also[]

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

External links[]