Under A Painted Sky

Under A Painted Sky

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"In 1845, Sammy, a Chinese American girl, and Annamae, an African American slave girl, disguise themselves as boys and travel on the Oregon Trail to California from Missouri"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), [2015]
ISBN: 9780399168031
Branch Call Number: y LEE 2015
Characteristics: 374 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Just before the Civil War, teens Samantha (a Chinese American orphan) and Annamae (an African American slave) disguise themselves as boys and runaway to freedom and the California Gold Rush. They discover adventure, inner resources, friendship and romance on the way.

Set in 1849, Samantha, a Chinese American girl, and Annamae, a runaway slave disguise themselves as boys and head from Missouri to California on the Oregon Trail.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 13, 2018

Devastated by the death of her father and having just killed a man self-defense, a fifteen-year-old flees St. Joseph, Missouri. Samantha, a Chinese-American, and Annamae, a fellow fugitive escaping a life of slavery, disguise themselves as teenage boys and join the throngs of wagon trains heading west on the Oregon Trail in 1849. Samantha, now "Sammy," hopes to catch up with a family friend, while "Andy" yearns to reconnect with her brother. When an opportunity arises to join up with a group of three teenage cowboys, they hesitate: are they convincing, or will their pretense be discovered?

You know that book which is so gripping that even when you aren't reading, you're thinking about when your next opportunity to crack it open again? This was one of those for me. I could not put down this fast-paced, engaging adventure. I love Sammy's pluck and Andy's calm strength and wisdom. A quick, fun, entertaining read -- strongly recommended.

OPL_AmyW Mar 08, 2018

For those older millennials already nostalgic for the Oregon Trail playing days of their youth, this sweet tale of two teenage girls, disguised as boys, making their way west will absolutely resonate.

Aug 08, 2017

You have to suspend disbelief that 3 grown men would fail to notice their traveling companions are females rather than boys. But, do give it a try. I loved the book.

LPL_KimberlyL Jul 13, 2017

Thelma & Louise meets Oregon Trail (the old school video game), with a little Some Like It Hot thrown in there for good measure. An inter-sectional old western about a young Chinese girl escaping her past, and a runaway slave looking for a better future. This book has humor, survival, adventure, and loads of friendship. I'm glad I read this for YA for Grownups book club, and I would highly recommend!

Jun 03, 2017

This book is a wittily funny, entertaining, and easy read. I loved the references to the traditional Chinese culture and zodiac, and the characters were all really unique and distinguishable. Parts of the novel really cracked me up. I didn't expect to like this 'cuz I'm not particularly interested in the Wild West or anything to do with cowboys. But! I really did enjoy it. The action is really engaging, and I think that's really what drove the book. Things are always happening, and there wasn't really any part that made me feel bored. A nice, relaxing read.

Apr 24, 2017

Annamae and Samantha are both on the run: Annamae as a runaway slave, Samantha as a fugitive after killing her attempted rapist. Both find refuge with a trio of cowboys: Cay, Peety and West. What transpires is their quest across the plains, and the "band of brothers" they form as a quintet.

An atmospheric novel, with lovely prose, well developed characters, and a page turner - I had to suspend belief on much of the story line: an abundance of food and water on their trek (have I read too many Donner party accounts?), miraculous escapes from the law, lightening strike survival, among others, that I was often eye-rolling some of the narrative.

That being said, I loved both Annamae and Samantha and their relationship. True Friends.

I would definitely read this author again

ArapahoeTiegan Jan 06, 2017

As a fellow violin player, my heart just goes out to Samantha and the relationship she has with her violin.

I love Samantha and Annamae's friendship and the lengths the two girls go to in order to achieve their dreams. However, I did not quite believe how understanding and welcoming the cowboys were when they knew the girls' secret. For the time period, it just didn't really feel right. But maybe there were people who behaved against social norms throughout history and were more open-minded like this bunch.

Overall, I think this story was very fun and very well written.

PimaLib_JessicaP Oct 16, 2016

This book is gorgeous both inside and out. The story is narrated by Sam, a teenager of Chinese descent who has suddenly lost her father and her livelihood. She, along with escaped slave Annamae, must find their own way out of Missouri and across the country--Sam to California and Annamae to her older brother--and the best way to do that in 1849? Disguise themselves as boys for the trip...which they are actually pretty bad at (but that's another story for another day). This story is not only about self-discovery, but also about developing friendship and creating your own found family. And love, of course. Of all kinds.

Jul 27, 2016

I rarely read much historical fiction, but when I do, it usually incorporates either very specific or vague time frames. This novel is set in the U.S, in a time period not specified, when people rode horses and slaves still existed. This novel is mostly adventure, some suspense, and a hint of romance.The daughter of a dead merchant teams up with a female slave, who accidently killed her captor, on a runaway mission to find her heirloom. Being girls, they could only do so with the help of disguises as boys, and the aid of three cowboys. The motivation behind the characters sparkle as they embark on a journey that will change their lives forever. This is definitely one of the best books I have read in a while. - @Siri of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Jul 09, 2016

This book was a great combination of history and romance. This book is often missed out and people should read it.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

indigo_hummingbird_235 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Jun 03, 2017

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Melissa_RA_Librarian thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Summary
Jun 03, 2017

We follow Samantha and Annamae's journey to find Annamae's brother, Isaac, and Samantha's father's friend, Mr. Trask. On the way, they meet a group of cowboys and disguise themselves as boys.

After her father is killed in a fire and she kills a man who attempts to rape her, Chinese American Sammy escapes with the help of Annamae who is a runaway slave. Both girls know that the punishment if they are caught will be death. Together they head west along the Oregon Trail, hoping to find Annamae's brother and Sammy's father's business partner so they can start a new life. Along they way they fall in with a group of young cowboys, who help them survive the dangers of the trail.


Add a Quote
Jun 03, 2017

Andy announces, "Tonight we's got a romantic story."

"Oh good," says Cay. "Come on, hold my hand, West. That'll make it extra-special."


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at MCL

To Top