The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor
Taylor's realistic novel -- despite the Tom-Sawyer-like protagonist and narrator, it is aimed at an adult audience and contains episodes that would have kept it off any school list at the time -- was published in 1958 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the following year. In it, the young Jaimie (spelled with two "i"s) accompanies a wagon train headed from St. Louis, Missouri, to California after the 1849 Gold Rush. The novel alternates between Jaimie describing his journey by wagon train to California with commentary by his father, a Scottish doctor with an effervescent personality whose judgment is often clouded by his weakness for gambling and strong drink. The novel contains, in graphic detail, some intense Native American customs, especially rite of passage.