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Gold Rush Girl    by Avi order for
Gold Rush Girl
by Avi
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Gold Rush Girl is an exciting new YA historical, with a strong feminist undercurrent, from Newbery Award winning author Avi. Our heroine is teen Victoria Blaisdell, who grows up with her parents and younger brother Jacob in Providence, Rhode Island. The story opens in 1848.

Tory is a young woman of strong character, who wants more from life than the restrictions imposed on a young woman at that time. Though her early years are 'smooth as Chinese silk', she yearns for more freedom. Unlike Jacob, she's not allowed to go to school, but learns from his lessons. Acquiring a library membership enlarges her horizons and Jane Eyre transforms her life, especially the words 'Your will shall decide your destiny.'

Then her father loses his position and sinks into depression until he hears of the gold rush in California and decides to head west, with Jacob. After sharing her plans with her mother, Tory stows away on their ship. San Francisco is chaotic and wild, a shock to all of them, with hundreds of discarded ships in the Bay, dubbed Rotten Row. Father soon heads to the gold fields, leaving Tory to look after Jacob, their home a rough tent.

Though Jacob is unhappy with their situation, Tory thrives, dressing in boy's clothing and finding regular work, and a new friend, Thad. Then disaster strikes, as Jacob is kidnapped by a crimp, to be sold as a cabin boy. Searching desperately for her brother, Tory makes a new friend, Sam, a young musician of color. Tory, Thad and Sam brave great danger together, in a race against time to find Jacob's prison in Rotten Row, before he's lost forever.

It's a thrilling adventure, and it looks like there's more to come for this teen trio, who head to the gold fields together at the end of this first set of exploits.

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