The Devil's Paintbox is another of those books I spotted in the young adult section at Barnes & Noble, along with Nobody's Princess, Nobody's Prize, and Sphinx's Princess. This book wasn't quite what I expected, though — it was much darker than I generally expect young adult fiction to be. But it was also extremely well researched and compelling, and I loved it!
The book is about a 15-year-old boy and his little sister, orphans on a failed homestead in Kansas, who join a wagon train to work in a logging camp in the Pacific Northwest. The title refers to smallpox, which plays a pretty major role in the events of the book.
In a lot of ways, this book reminds me of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, as it is the story of a boy who goes on a journey and confronts issues such as racism, indentured servitude, and violence. Above all, it is a coming-of-age story, about a boy who is thrown out into the world to learn for himself what is right and wrong.