Pub. Date: May 17, 2017

2018 Wrangler Award• 2018 Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Outstanding Western Novel by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage MuseumWESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA SPUR AWARD

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

• 2017 LitPick Five Star Book Review Award




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!)


“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


“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