Deep beneath the floors of every library is a secret few people know; here, in this unknown place of the library, are the books that pull the reader into another world, and show him what events inspired a writer to create a famous book.
Thomas Weaver, a boy just trying to write a report about the gold rush, has discovered the secret, and his life is forever changed. Thomas goes back to California, 1865 to discover the West that Mark Twain knew.
Thomas thought he would go back in time, talk to Twain, and then return to the real world. He quickly learns, however, that the book has other plans. He cannot return to the real world until he has experienced the West.
Along with his adventurous cousin, Will, Thomas sees firsthand a bank robbery, learns how to pan for gold, talks to drifters who left everything because they hoped to strike it rich, narrowly escapes death twice, and ultimately learns that there is more to the California Gold Rush than just gold.