Embracing the Elephant

"There will be hunger and there will be cold. You will encounter wild animals and wilder men.”

Undeterred by the most dire warnings, in 1848 eleven-year-old Guinevere Walker embarks on a perilous journey to reunite with her widowed father. From her home in Boston she sails to Rio de Janeiro, around Cape Horn, to the rudimentary town of San Francisco -- ultimately arriving at the California mountain range called the Sierra Nevada, known for both its beauty and brutality.   


As Guine and her father struggle to forge a new relationship, they confront the most massive human migration the world has ever known: the California Gold Rush. Hundreds of thousands of fortune hunters from around the globe flood into the burgeoning territory to “See the Elephant” – to experience a great adventure, dig for a golden fortune, face the harshest realities, and search for their own personal truths.   


Embracing the Elephant is a powerful story about one child coming of age at precisely the moment a nation enters its own new age. It is a tale of fierce determination, resilience, discovery, and best of all, hope.  

Awards & Honors

Clarion - Foreword Reviews

IAN - Historical Finalist 2015

Independent Reviews

"...historically evocative..."

- Publishers Weekly

"..a journey worth taking."

- Foreword Reviews

"Beninger's skillful use of language pulls you into the story and makes the scenes come alive."

- Historical Novel Society