top of page

Desperate times.


Danger on the rails.


A journey to save a family.


Historical Fiction | Action & Adventure


The Only Way Home

by Jeanette Minniti

It is 1933 inside a sweltering courtroom in Macon, Georgia. Fifteen-year-old Robert sits on a bench awaiting sentencing after being picked up for vagrancy and spending a night in jail. He left his home in Illinois with a neighborhood friend to ride the rails and find work to help their families. The friend turned back, too afraid to face the perils ahead. But going back empty-handed isn’t an option for Robert.


THE ONLY WAY HOME is the story of one boy’s determination to survive loss and hardship to help his family — and how fate and a violin touch the course of his life.


Fans of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and Sold On a Monday by Kristina Morris will love this story set during the Great Depression of a fatherless boy fighting to keep his family together.

Buy from your favorite retailer: 

Published by: Penning Press

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7355669-0-0

Paperback Trim: 5.5" x 8.5" - 242 pages

Also available as an eBook.


Purchase as a Paperback from your favorite retailer! Also available as a Kindle, at

Available at a discount to wholesalers through Ingram. Or inquire with Penning Press to purchase multiple copies at a discount for your next book club, and have Jeanette appear on Zoom, answering your groups discussion questions!


Winner of the 2022 Colorado Authors League 1st Place Award in Historical Fiction!


Connect with Jeanette:


Jeanette Minniti is a writer living in Colorado. She received an MA in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University of Colorado, Boulder


She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Lighthouse Writers in Denver.


With a background in journalism, her creative writing interest gravitated to historical fiction. Her first novel, The Only Way Home, published by Penning Press, won the Colorado Authors League 1st Place Gold Award for Historical Fiction, a 2nd Place Silver EVVY Award in Literary & Contemporary Fiction, and a 3rd Place Bronze EVVY Award in Historical Fiction from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. She also received an Honorable Mention Award from Readers' Favorite in Historical Fiction-Events/Eras.


As a member of the American Association of University Women, she coordinates the Foreign Policy Association's Great Decisions discussion group and participates in several AAUW interest groups. AAUW Mission: To advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy.


Jeanette and her husband enjoy all that Colorado renders in outdoor activities including hiking and biking.

  • Facebook
Country Field


The Only Way Home by Jeanette Minniti 

Chapter Two

“Hey, kid. What are you doing here all by yourself?” Robert focused his eyes on a man who could’ve been his dad’s age. The man wasn’t as scroungy looking as the rest of the people in the freight car, definitely not as grimy looking as he was after so many days on the road. The night before he’d ripped his trousers at the knee on a nail when he slipped into a barn to sleep. A code carved on a fence post by others traveling through signaled it was supposed to be a safe place to use as a shelter. He borrowed some of the horse’s water from a trough to wash up but knew he probably still smelled like the horses in the barn.


“So, what’s your story, kid? I didn’t see anyone hop on with you. You could get in lots of trouble traveling alone. You on the run or something?”


Robert couldn’t think of what to say. His small frame made him seem even younger than he was, so he figured that’s why people had been staring at him on the trip from St. Louis to Georgia and now back.


“I’m not in any trouble. I’m just going home, that’s all.”


Someone in the car slammed one of the freight doors shut, giving him the opportunity to turn away. The man seemed out of place on the freight train, his light-brown hair trimmed, clothes clean, boots barely scuffed, leaving Robert to wonder if he was with the law or something.


Most of the people on the freights stayed to themselves and didn’t talk much except if the guys started playing cards. Then sometimes there was shouting. Two families in the corner of the boxcar had small children, one with a baby. Families tended to look down and not around, as though they were scared or maybe ashamed.


The man’s stare felt piercing, so he tried not to focus his eyes directly at him.


“Where you headed?”




“I’m headed up north, too. By the way, my name is Al. What’s your name, son?”


Holding back from answering his question for fear it might lead to him pressing for more information, he leaned forward, wrapped his arms around his knees, and then took the risk.




The man didn’t say much after that. Robert glanced out the side of the other freight car door, trying to remember the route he took to Georgia, not sure about all the stops or what route he and Johnny had taken to St. Louis.

The train started slowing, then jerked to a stop. In an instant, the freight car door slammed back open. Someone in the car bellowed “Raid!”


Contact Jeanette

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page