5

I read this book maybe fifteen years ago, but it felt much older. I think the prices used suggested it taking place in the 50's or 60's. (I was a european kid who never used dollars, I might be mistaken on this point.)

There was a group of siblings, with the oldest sister being somewhere in her teens. For some reason they had to go find an older cousin of them to live with, and couldn't rely on anyone, so they walked across the states, maybe following an interstate. I think they worked a bit along the way to get food money.

They eventually reached the cousin's house. She proved to be quite nice to the children. I can't remember if they did actually live with her, but I'm pretty sure they didn't see their parents again if they were still alive.

In a sequel the oldest sister was learning to build boats. A stranger came in the hangar she was working in, made fun of her for her lack of experience, then helped her I think.

I also remember a scene of her at the school, the teacher asking to plan a meal with as little money as possible. She did so using her previous experience on the road, but the teacher mocked her, claiming that no one could survive on so little. That made her angry as she obviously had.

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6

I suspect this is Cynthia Voight's Homecoming.

Homecoming, set in the very early 1980s, tells the story of four siblings aged between six and thirteen, whose mother abandons them one summer afternoon in their car next to a Connecticut shopping mall during an aborted road trip to a family member in Bridgeport. Realizing that their mother is not coming back, and that they cannot go home (as their father walked out before the youngest child was born), the children travel together, mostly on foot, trying to reach Bridgeport. There, they hope to find their missing mother at the home of a relative they have never met. The children find themselves on a journey that is emotional as well as literal; during their weeks on the road, their adventures and the people they meet along the way help them to find out more about who they are and what is important to them, as well as to cope with the loss of their mother and to understand society's reaction to her poverty, isolation, mental illness, and the fact that she was an unmarried mother of four.

It's followed by Dicey's Song, which does indeed involve boats and budgets, and several other books by Voight.

Found by searching for novel children hiking across United States to meet cousin

  • 1
    That's the one, thank you ! I've been wanting to re-read it for a few years now. – user123065 Nov 5 at 12:38
  • Damn me for not reading the question while migrating it :-( I know this book - it's always stuck quite vividly in my memory. (Also, congrats on 2k rep! That's the beta-site version of 10k, so now you get all the cool tools and can view deleted posts.) – Rand al'Thor Nov 5 at 15:41

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