Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mercury by Hope Larson

Tara Fraser's house burned down, and she's living with her cousin while her mother works in another town. Tara wishes she had enough money to rebuild a house on the family land. 150 years in the past, Josey Fraser is falling in love with Asa, a strange man who can locate gold on her family's land. While Josey's story becomes darker and more dangerous, it could mean hope for Tara in the future.

The story goes back and forth between Tara in the present and Josey's story in the past. The house that burned down was on the same land that Josey lived. Asa shows up at the family's door one night and says he knows there is gold on their land. He will show it to them for a cut. Josey's father agrees, but her mother is very suspicious of the Asa. Josey, meanwhile, falls in love with him, and Asa seems to love her too. However, after they find some gold, Josey's father wants to stop looking for gold and build an inn. Asa is angry. The next thing we know, Josey's father is dead. Asa claims it was bandits, but he's found guilty of the murder. He's shot trying to escape, and no one ever discovers where the body of Josey's father is, or where the gold is.

Tara is doing her best to fit in at high school after years of home schooling. She makes a few friends, and is interested in a boy (who looks a lot like her). Tara's mother calls to tell her she's found a steady job in another town. Tara is upset at the thought of having to leave her home, but without the money, she doesn't have any hope. Tara is given a necklace by her aunt, who says it was her mother's and has been in the family for many years. We know (but Tara doesn't) it's the same necklace that Asa wore when he would go looking for gold. Tara realizes the necklace's powers, and is determined to find the gold that is supposedly buried on her family's land.

This was a nice mix of realism, historical fiction and a little bit of supernatural. I liked how the story went back and forth between the past and the present, slowly building up until we could figure out what was going to happen. Josey's story is ultimately tragic, but it ends up helping Tara in the current day.

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