Whiskey When We’re Dry
When seventeen year old Jessilyn Harney is suddenly orphaned and left to her own devices on her family’s western homestead in the spring of 1885, she does what so many fictional characters like her have done before. She disguises herself as a boy and goes out into the world to try and survive.
Jessilyn decides to set out to find her outlaw older brother, Noah. Jess is a sharpshooter, and her talents mostly sustain her on her journey in the form of bets and wagers in shooting contests. However, it’s this skill that eventually compels the territory’s violent and unpredictable Governor to employ Jess (calling herself Jessie Straight) as a personal guard. The militia she joins is also hunting Noah, and plans to capture him dead or alive.
Jess is the best sort of hero – strong, smart, quick, and entirely engaging. The book jacket quotes BookPeople describing Jess as “Arya Stark meets True Grit,” and I couldn’t agree more. John Larison has created a completely original character out of familiar tropes, and set her in a book as wide and sweeping as the early American landscape in which it is set. I highly recommend Whiskey When We’re Dry.
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Viking; 1st Edition edition (August 21, 2018)
“[A] sweeping saga… John Larison’s new book plunges readers into the American West while simultaneously reimagining the mythic frontier. It examines issues of gender and race through the story of 17-year-old Jesse Harney and begins in the spring of 1885, when she dresses in men’s clothes, mounts her horse, and sets out west in search of her big brother, an outlaw on the frontier.”—Southern Living
“Larison has developed a pitch-perfect voice for his intrepid heroine.”—Publishers Weekly
“Larison gifts Jess with a strong voice to narrate her own story…. his western epic has wide appeal” —Booklist
“Told in -Jessilyn’s hard-hitting voice, [WHISKEY WHEN WE’RE DRY] has the resonance of a high lonesome ballad.” —Library Journal
“Like Philipp Meyer’s The Son or Robert Olmstead’s Savage Country, Whiskey When We’re Dry draws on Larison’s own experiences with the “cowboy arts” to paint a vivid portrait of the American West as witnessed by an unforgettable character.”—BookPage