“‘Good to cry, my tiny White-white. Good to cry.'”Blood and Silver by Vali Benson
Tombstone, Arizona in 1880 was not a place for the weak and Carissa Beaumont was a true testament to that. Regardless of being only twelve, she has a strong will and a brave heart. Having just moved into town with her sick mother, her mother’s employer, Miss Lucille, and the other ‘ladies’, Carissa has to learn quickly the ropes of the city or be swept up into all sorts of trouble a boomtown like this would have. Or worse, have to start working for Miss Lucille and become one of the ladies of the night.
When a chance to help her ailing mother comes unexpectedly, Carissa jumps on it and finds herself at China Mary’s doorstep. Facing her fears and placing her trust in this new woman, Carissa has to walk a fine line between keeping Miss Lucille away from her mother while not being caught getting aid from China Mary.
It is the time for the silver and the blood just might start raining.
Young Adult, Historic Fiction, Silver Rush, 1880, United States
Why This Rating?
I love reading historical fiction books. They give me a glimpse into the things that people might have or would have experienced during whatever time or era the author has chosen. The amount of research and dedication to the time period can be felt while reading those books. And then seeing the author being able to create a fictional story that fits so snug into the fine parameters given to the history is wonderful! Blood and Silver showed that same dedication to the era and fantastic craft with slipping in her own fictional story to the time period. I could easily imagine Carissa’s story being a possible event having taken place during the silver rush in 1880 Unite States. And that feeling of a story being a possibility is what made it so much fun to read.
The story is a quick read, but I didn’t feel like it was skipping over anything to important that it would need to be longer. I do wish that there was a bit more to the conclusion of the story. I would have loved to see a more developed interaction between Carissa and her mother and the Sheriff – you’ll have to read to figure out what happens! It felt like there was a lot that happened between these characters – especially at the end! – but such a small amount of it was really given to us. I guess a majority of it was because we are looking through Carissa’s point of view, but she is too sharp of a young girl to not see somethings that happen around her.
Can I just say that I love the nicknames China Mary has for people! They are absolutely perfect. Describing each individual to the ‘T’ seems to be a specialty of hers. I think she is honestly my favorite character. She gives snark and doesn’t take any back. She stands up to anyone who thinks they are better than her. And China Mary watches out for her own and those she has taken under her wing. Not to mention she was an actual figure from history, which just adds to her kick-assness (and yes that is entirely a made up word! Dont’ judge, you understand what I mean!). I find her to be an amazing role model – excluding the selling of drugs – for Carissa and probably for other women who wanted to strike out and become something.
Now, as a warning, this book does discuss prostitution BUT it is done in such a tasteful manner that I was amazed at how Benson wrote about it. There is a big taboo revolving around prostitution in current era even just discussing it is one; however, back then it was just a way to survive. With Carissa’s mother being a prostitute, you see the unfortunate situations women were placed into just to be able to survive day to day. Some loved it. Others did it just to earn a living. And I feel like a lot had the hopes of escaping or at the very least fall in love with someone who would whisk them away. I forgot many times what profession brought all of these ladies to Tombstone, not because it wasn’t discussed but because of the attitudes the individuals had about the job. It was just that, a job to help ease the hardships of the time. You don’t have to worry about anything promiscuous being discussed or over flaunting about anything that would be inappropriate. It is overall a sound and wonderful piece of writing.
Time to get lost in the next story!