Larson, H. (2010). Mercury. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9781416935889
Annotation: In 1859, a stranger finds gold on Josey Fraser’s family farm, but something isn’t right about this man. In 2009, Tara Fraser finds an heirloom that might help her rebuild the family home after a fire.
Reaction: I loved Larson’s style so much, I had to read a second book by her! I liked this one more than Chiggers thanks, mostly, to the more definite fantasy/magical realism elements in Mercury. I like that the Fraser women have a little bit of the supernatural about them, giving them premonitions about the future.
Larson does a great job of juxtaposing the daily life for the two teenage girls living 150 years apart. She really highlights the difference in their lives through day to day activities and the experience of falling in love for the first time: Josey helps out on the family farm with chores and taking care of her siblings and her first love leads her to thoughts of marriage, while Tara goes to school and participates in track and her first love is tentative and unsure about whether they’re boyfriend and girlfriend.
I also really like the way Larson tied Josey’s tragedy and heartbreak to Tara’s fortune. If Josey and her immediate family couldn’t benefit from the gold found on their land, at least her descendants will get to enjoy it.
Media Used: Orange and nonphoto blue Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils on smooth 11″x14″ Strathmore Bristol. Inked with #3 Kolinsky Raphael sable brush, Pelikan Drawing Ink A, Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Hicarb, Golden Fluid acrylic paint in titanium white (paired with a cheap acrylic liner brush), and Wite-out (from Note on Illustrations).