In this YA novel, Holland shows us a raging San Francisco during the beginning of the 1849 Gold Rush. Many different types of people are flocking to California. Preachers, con men, miners, Mormons, army deserters, and Native Americans are trying to start over. Here are Frances Hardhardt, an escaped slave whose goal is to never be controlled again as she has been controlled; Daisy, a gorgeous singer who is Hardhart’s protegee and tool; and Mitya, an Aleut Indian with a troubled past whose talent as a builder creates the central locale of the book, the Shining Light Saloon. That location becomes the glue that binds people and story together in a multicultural drama.