A Day at Dead Frenchman Mine

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Gus, a 13-year-old boy from Nowhere, Arizona (a town that’s literally in the middle of nowhere), has been picked on by Bo Taylor for as long as he can remember. It wasn’t that big of a deal for him until Bo tries to make him eat a jumping cholla, a cactus known for jumping onto its victims.

Fortunately, Rossi Scott, the best dirt bike racer in Nowhere, manages to rescue Gus. On the downside, she has to give Bo her prized motorcycle, Loretta, to make him leave Gus alone. Determined to repay the favor, Gus makes a deal with Bo: Bo says he’ll give back Loretta if Gus can get a piece of gold from Dead Frenchman Mine.

“24 Hours in Nowhere” by Dusti Bowling is a story about friends taking care of each other through difficult times.

Dead Frenchman mine got its name when a man named William Dufort stole a bag of gold many years ago and was killed when the mine caved in. His partner, Jose Navarro, was shot by Dufort and died shortly afterwards. The only reason Gus knows about this story is because his great-grandfather, Fergus Foley, died from a rattlesnake bite on that same day.

Not only is finding the gold incredibly difficult, but it’s also terribly dangerous. Others had tried to find the gold in that mine since then, but all of them wound up dying in the mine instead. As much as Gus knows that it’s a terrible idea, he accepts the deal.

Now, Gus is trapped in the mine with Rossi, his old friend Jessie, and Matthew, one of Bo’s cronies. Nearly forgetting about the gold, the four kids have their minds set on one thing: finding a way out.

With barely any food or water and no light except for a few dying flashlights, the four kids have to find a way to work together to escape from the cave, restore their friendships…and maybe even find William Dufort’s gold.

At around 260 pages, “24 Hours in Nowhere” is a short but captivating book that’s great for elementary to middle-grade students. As a fan of Bowling’s previous book, “Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus”, I was disappointed to find that this book wasn’t as much fun. Despite this, I still enjoyed it and felt a strong connection to the characters.