David Ballantine's debut novel Chalk's Woman, is a story about freedom, liberation, and love. Set in the violent backdrop of the waning months of the Civil War, Chalk's Woman addresses violence and redemption as seen through the eyes of a girl maturing into a woman.
Ann, a fourteen-year-old girl, wakes up after a terrible explosion in a make-shift hospital during the waning months of the Civil War--her house no longer stands and her mother is dead, and a young Dr. Frazier amputated her arm in order to to prevent infection. . Homeless and an orphaned, Ann feels her only option is to travel west.
She leaves Vicksburg on the Santa Fe Trail and meets a troupe of orphaned children like herself and joins up with them. Together they fight against the hardships of the wild frontier: abominable weather, savage Indians, and starvation all the way to Kansas where they meet and, much to his chagrin, fall in love with Chalk.
Chalk's not the nicest of men, and he sure does have a drinking problem, but from the moment Chalk and Ann see each other, they know their lives will forever be entwined.