Named a Best Book by Entertainment Weekly, O Magazine, Goodreads, Southern Living, Outside Magazine, Oprah.com, HelloGiggles, Parade, Fodor’s Travel, Sioux City Journal, Read it Forward, Medium.com, and NPR’s All Things Considered.
"A thunderclap of originality, here is a fresh voice and fresh take on one of the oldest stories we tell about ourselves as Americans and Westerners. It's riveting in all the right ways -- a damn good read that stayed with me long after closing the covers." - Timothy Egan, New York Times bestselling author of The Worst Hard Time
From a blazing new voice in fiction, a gritty and lyrical American epic about a young woman who disguises herself as a boy and heads west
In the spring of 1885, seventeen-year-old Jessilyn Harney finds herself orphaned and alone on her family's homestead. Desperate to fend off starvation and predatory neighbors, she cuts off her hair, binds her chest, saddles her beloved mare, and sets off across the mountains to find her outlaw brother Noah and bring him home. A talented sharpshooter herself, Jess's quest lands her in the employ of the territory's violent, capricious Governor, whose militia is also hunting Noah--dead or alive.
Wrestling with her brother's outlaw identity, and haunted by questions about her own, Jess must outmaneuver those who underestimate her, ultimately rising to become a hero in her own right.
Told in Jess's wholly original and unforgettable voice, Whiskey When We're Dry is a stunning achievement, an epic as expansive as America itself--and a reckoning with the myths that are entwined with our history.
True Grit meets Yentl in Larison's evocative debut. In the post-Civil War West, 17-year-old Jessilyn Harney's father dies, leaving their financially strapped homestead in her hands. She decides that the only way of saving it is to track down her errant older brother, Noah who left several years back and has since become a notorious outlaw and convince him to return home. Since it's dangerous to be a woman traveling alone, she chooses to masquerade as a boy. Using her talent as a sharpshooter to catch the eye of the state governor, Jessilyn joins his militia on the hunt for her brother, who is regarded as a folk hero by many. Passing herself off as a boy causes all sorts of problems for Jessilyn, who has to negotiate relationships with brothel girls, a closeted militiaman, the governor's daughter, and, later, a female outlaw. Finally reunited with her brother, Jessilyn holes up with his wild bunch only to be hunted down by the militiamen she once served with. Larison has developed a pitch-perfect voice for his intrepid heroine and populated the story with a lively crew of frontier types. Although overlong and sluggish in places, this is a winning tale of sexual identity in the Old West.
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I will carry this in my thoughts for a very long time. Terrific book! Powerful
Whiskey when we’re Dry