Pub. Date: May 17, 2017

Stranded Book Awards 2018
• 2018 Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Outstanding Western Novel by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

• 2018 Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Fiction Novel by the Western Writers of America

• 2018 Peacemaker Award for Best Young Adult Western Novel by Western Fictioneers

• 2018 Willa Award for Best Historical Fiction by Women Writing the West

• 2018 High Plains Book Award for Young Adult Book

• 2018 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Young Readers

• 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Silver, for Young Adult Historical Fiction

• 2018 Literary Classics Seal of Approval

• 2017 LitPick Five Star Book Review Award

• Official Book Club Selection




Based on a true account: Stranded is the story of 14-year-old Janette Riker who, in the autumn of 1849, travels westward to Oregon Territory with her father and two brothers. Before crossing the Rockies, they stop briefly to hunt buffalo. The men leave camp early on the second day … and never return.

Facing a winter alone in the mountains, Janette pushes aside her despair. She builds a crude shelter and kills and butchers their last ox. Soon, she is trapped by unforgiving early snows of the Northern Rockies.

The harrowing winter brings repeated attempts by mountain lions, grizzly bears, and wolves to dislodge and devour her. With blizzards, frostbite, and gnawing hunger her only companions, Janette rises to each challenge, relying on herself more than she knew possible. Her only comfort comes in writing in her diary, where she shares her fears, her travails, and her dwindling hopes….

Five Star Publishing, 241 pages, May 2017

Order your copy today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Powell’s

(Strong crossover potential for Young Adult readers!)


“Anticipation makes the pages fly by. The reader’s heart speeds up as Janette barely escapes the fangs of a hungry wolf. Hands grip the book more tightly as a mountain lion attacks her sod shelter and she grapples with her shotgun…. Readers who discover this book will be rewarded with a powerful story of courage and resilience.”

—Andrea Doles (Librarian at Ben Steele Middle School), The Billings Gazette

“With a novelist’s license, Mayo cleverly creates young Janette’s diary to tell her dramatic story, a remarkable tale of surviving alone in Montana’s Rocky Mountain wilderness, through a bitterly cold winter with scant supplies and diminishing hope and only her courage and determination to sustain her.”

—Bill Bushnell,

“The author does an incredible job of describing how this young woman survived alone for many months in a completely unfamiliar place under extremely severe circumstances. The western setting almost becomes a character as Janette struggles with the natural world but also acknowledges its terrible beauty.”

—Professional Librarian/Willa Literary Award Judge

“Unforgettable novel about a young girl stranded by herself at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Although there was not an excess of dialog (obviously, since she was alone for most of the book), Janette’s voice came through loud and clear and her descriptions of her life during this time were mesmerizing.”

—Professional Librarian/Willa Literary Award Judge

“With a novelist’s license, Mayo cleverly creates young Janette’s diary to tell her dramatic story, a remarkable tale of surviving alone in Montana’s Rocky Mountain wilderness, through a bitterly cold winter with scant supplies and diminishing hope and only her courage and determination to sustain her.”

—Bill Bushnell,

“Decades ago, as a pre-teen boy, I remember being completely blown away by Scott O’Dell’s Newbery Award-winning novel, Island of Blue Dolphins, which features a young female character all alone and fighting for survival, yet refusing to surrender her humanity in the face of brutal hardship. Similar feelings of admiration and inspiration came flooding back to me recently when I read Matthew P. Mayo’s wonderful “based on a true account” tale of frontier survival, Stranded. Not only is Janette Riker a wonderful teenage hero—every bit as vulnerable and self-aware as she is resilient—but Mayo’s lean, precise prose sparkles with a brilliance that puts to shame most of today’s “adventure fantasies” aimed at a teenage audience. This book is a fine read for adults and young adults alike.”

—Paul Guernsey


“Written in journal format, this novel is altogether riveting. Harrowing scenes are told so vividly, and with such powerful prose, it’s easy for readers to become entirely immersed in Janette’s story. The young frontier girl’s heart-rending account, as represented by Mayo, is one that will not soon be forgotten. Equal parts fascinating, inspiring, and endearing, the story of this determined young lady who endured unbearable conditions in the unforgiving wilderness is suitable for readers of all ages who will surely be entranced by this historically accurate work of fiction. Stranded is recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.”

—Literary Classics

“I edited STRANDED by Matthew P. Mayo. It’s one of the BEST books I’ve ever read/edited. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED is an understatement!”

—Denise Dietz


“Powerful, raw, awe-inspiring…. STRANDED is an adventure tale above all. Told in the form of a diary kept by Janette Riker, this is actually based on a true story…. The real Janette didn’t keep a diary, but if she had, it may have been filled with grit and determination, just like this book. Rating: 5 out of 5.”

—Sylvia Shults, Circulation Librarian

Fondulac District Library, Peoria, Illinois

“Matthew P. Mayo produces his finest work of fiction to date…. Gripping, unsettling, and deeply affecting, Stranded is a powerful and unforgettable tale of courage and endurance in the face of adversity. A remarkable, must-read novel.”

—Nicholas Litchfield, Lancashire Evening Post

“For fans of narratives such as HATCHET, THE REVENANT, and THE CALL OF THE WILD, Matthew P. Mayo’s compelling historical fiction, STRANDED is an adventure tale for young and old readers alike. This gripping story made me feel as if I was there with Janette, in her sorrow and fear, and I could not stop reading until I reached the end. Mayo brings us into Janette’s amazing tale of survival and her pursuit of hope. STRANDED is a fluid and charismatic anecdote, the tale of a hardship that hopefully no one will have to willingly endure.”


“I found myself rooting for Janette every step of the way. The characters that the author, Matthew P. Mayo, created felt real in every way, from their interactions with one another to how they acted by themselves. I also really loved seeing how Janette overcame the variety of difficulties she faced. The book had nice flow … and the themes of family and survival could be found throughout this novel.”

—LitPick Five-Star Student Review

“Narrated in simple country prose, pleasing to the reader, Janette’s impressive efforts to keep herself alive entrance us, especially considering she is alone, with only her father’s lessons to guide her. Interludes with bears, wolves and especially a rapacious mountain lion are as terrifying as any horror novel. Present-day adults and kids will be proud of Janette. Highly recommended.”

—Thomas J. Howley

Historical Novels Review

Mayo, an accomplished and award-winning author, has taken a small historical incident and developed a readable tale of frontier challenge and survival. Stranded is a well-written and interesting page-turner. Mayo skillfully exposes Janette’s strengths as well as her weaknesses—readers will be rooting her onward one moment and saying, “oh, no,” the next. This is a good read, suitable for readers who enjoy adventure with a western tinge.”


Matthew Mayo has a way with the West, an ability to transport a reader through time to a place, and he uses it to great effect in Stranded, the true story of a young girl’s attempt to survive alone in the wilderness. You feel every chilling moment, see the breath of the wolf, hear the growl of the grizzly, and you can’t help but wonder whether you would have made it. And you can’t stop turning pages. Janette Riker was left behind by her father and brothers, but you won’t want to leave her side—it would mean having to put the book down. Stranded has the feel of a classic….”

—Andrew Vietze

award-winning author of the bestselling survival epic, BOON ISLAND

Stranded, Matthew P. Mayo’s latest tale set in the West, is a grand example of a writer working at the top of his form.  This gritty survival story, based on the true account of Janette Riker, a 14-year-old girl lost in Montana Territory, spotlights all of Mayo’s considerable talents.  There’s enough heart and history, mixed with white-knuckle tension and fear, to keep a reader glued to the pages for many an hour. I’ve long believed that Matthew P. Mayo is the future of Western fiction. Stranded has convinced me that belief is not only true, but a certainty. This is Mayo’s best book yet.”

—Larry D. Sweazy

multiple-award winning author of WHERE I CAN SEE YOU

“The Janette Riker [Mayo] created is a girl both likable and admirable. Young adults who think they’ve got it rough have a lot to learn here.”

“A riveting read from the very first compelling sentence to the last. A tale of toughness and the drive to survive under the most harrowing emotional and physical circumstances imaginable. A page-turning testament to the darkness as well as the grandness of life. Best of all, it’s based on a true story.”

—Peter Brandvold