Child in the Valley is extremely brutal and haunting, far beyond its subject matter. Gordy Sauer has a bright future ahead of him.“ Larry McMurtry A brutal coming-of-age story, Gordy Sauer’s novel Child in the Valley explores greed and violence on the frontier. The book begins with the recently orphaned Joshua Gaines being confronted with serious debt after the death of his adopted father. Fleeing his St. Louis home, the 17-year-old joins a vicious party of 49ers while they travel overland to Gold Rush California. Tales of acquired wealth permeated the 1849 rush for gold. The stories of killings, starvation and bad luck were not always recorded because they were taken to a grave. Locally, about half of those who departed for the Gold Rush never returned home. Preparing for the research for the book, Sauer traveled from Independence, Missouri through Nebraska and Wyoming, and across the once bountiful gold fields of California. A native Texan and transplant Missourian, he holds an MFA from Columbia University.