The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“I killed my mother. Twice, if I am to be completely honest—though she only died the one time.”
Entering Kit’s word we are sent back to 1905 Goldfield, Nevada during the gold rush, and meet Kit Donovan, thirteen-years-old, blaming and publically shaming herself for her mother’s death from pneumonia.
It’s dusty and dirty, and she lives in a tent with her father. Her school is in a tent. Classmates tease her incessantly and throw stones! Her teacher ostracizes and humiliates her. It’s the hard knock life for sure.
Kit’s father works in the local gold mine, and one day she comes home and finds the neighbor, Wild Woman, Clara, pulling wood splinters and bandaging her father’s arm and talking about Mr. Granger, the corrupt owner of the mine Goliath, who wants to blow the wells to kingdom come. Regardless of who is harmed or killed.
Kit convinces her father to speak out about the dangers of the gold mine, and when he doesn’t she takes the truth to the local newspaper. The whole town explodes with the news. Her father’s gunned down on Main Street right in front of her. Granger holds the smoking pistol, shouting, “It was self-defense.” Her father now labeled “agitator” and dead.
She finds solace at the horse stables with a borrowed copy The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The only book she has, other than the Bible, to keep her from “becoming as dull and stupid as this savage place” A promise she made her mother. She meets Arnie in the stables, a Shoshone boy, reading the copy of Huck Finn, and he quickly becomes an ally.
With her keen curiosity and determination, advanced spelling skills, (even if she suppresses her intelligence so she’s not teased at school) she lands a job at the local Times, after a few adjustments to the part about being a girl, she goes undercover in the mines to find out first hand and prove her father’s innocence. She learns that her father knew even more about the dangers of the mines.
This book was such a pleasure to read. The setting and atmosphere were well developed and the characters grip your heart. You’re right with Kit, as she heroically and tragically sets off, each adventure more tragic than the next.
Published on April 25th, 2017 by Albert Whitman
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