Whiskey When We're Dry
February 20, 2020 10:38 AM - by John Larison - Subscribe

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.
posted by OHenryPacey (7 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I almost always seem to read a western per year, and this may be the best western i've ever read. It's thoroughly set in its time, but yet a novel of our age. I just love Jesse's voice from the opening page to the bitter end.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:41 AM on February 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

I more or less immediately put a hold on this after reading the blurb and your recommendation, OHenryPacey. Hopefully it won't be too long :)
posted by kalimac at 4:57 PM on February 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

OK, I'm sold. I'll pick up a copy.
posted by kyrademon at 10:49 AM on February 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this sounds pretty great.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:45 PM on February 21, 2020

I just finished reading it based on this summary and really, really liked it! Jess is a really memorably charismatic narrator and the different ways it grappled with violence as a theme were inspired and thought provoking. I am going to recommend this to friends for sure. Thanks so much for the rec, OHenryPacey; I am not usually a reader of westerns and I'm so glad I picked this one up.
posted by potrzebie at 11:02 PM on March 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow. Just wow. Not sure what else to say other than that. Thanks for making this post, otherwise I might not have heard of the book.
posted by sacrifix at 10:23 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I finished this last night, and it was wonderful. I don't really read Westerns, so I'm not as familiar with the tropes and stories of the genre, but I loved the feel of place. I did grow up reading the Little House on the Prairie books, so fell right into the warm landscape descriptions.
I had started to get a little over the stint at the Governor's estate, but can't argue with the way it was ended :) Some bits were hard to read; it's not a cheerful story. But also, Jess's voice echoed in my head long after I put the book down, which was strange and good.
Spoiler ahead:
I was kind of surprised she wasn't executed, but was instead jailed for life? Was that the precedent for women, or convenience for the story? Then again, I was thinking of Frankie Silver, and that was quite some time before, so maybe there was kind of precedence for not hanging women by the time of this story, in WY?
posted by kalimac at 2:05 PM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

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