Blood and Silver by Vali Benson

Twelve year old Carissa Beaumont arrives in Tombstone, Arizona in 1880 with her mother and three women. Her mother and two of the others are prostitutes, and Miss Lucille, the madam, rules them with an iron hand. Carissa’s mother, ill and addicted to drugs, is all she has. Carissa must find a way out of this life.

In Tombstone, China Mary, a powerful immigrant, knows everything that happens and controls most of it. On the doctor’s advice, Carissa must venture into China Mary’s world and obtain help for her mother. China Mary likes Carissa’s respectful way and her bravery. She gets the girl a job at the hotel with her niece, Mai-Lin, who is Carissa’s age.

The characters of Miss Lucille, China Mary, and Carissa are well done for a young adult novel. Young readers will immediately champion Carissa, as they should. When disaster strikes, Carissa and Mai-Lin must handle it together, as good friends do.

I enjoyed Blood and Silver very much, and I can see a young reader loving it. The author treated the difficult subjects of prostitution and drug addiction in an entirely appropriate way for young teens. Carissa’s determination, as well as her respectful treatment of others, is a great subliminal message. The story of China Mary befriending Carissa, and Carissa’s resulting relationship with the Chinese community in Tombstone may be too simplistic and easy for the adult reader, but a teen reader will love it. Overall, this is a compelling tale of a 12 year old’s drive to save her mother and her own future.

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren. After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction. In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, “Blood and Silver”. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

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