by Gennifer Choldenko
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Released: August 4, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
San Francisco, 1900. The Gilded Age. A fantastic time to be alive for lots of people . . . but not thirteen-year-old Lizzie Kennedy, stuck at Miss Barstow’s snobby school for girls. Lizzie’s secret passion is science, an unsuitable subject for finishing-school girls. Lizzie lives to go on house calls with her physician father. On those visits to his patients, she discovers a hidden dark side of the city—a side that’s full of secrets, rats, and rumors of the plague.
The newspapers, her powerful uncle, and her beloved papa all deny that the plague has reached San Francisco. So why is the heart of the city under quarantine? Why are angry mobs trying to burn Chinatown to the ground? Why is Noah, the Chinese cook’s son, suddenly making Lizzie question everything she has known to be true? Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie and Noah must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people they love.
Chasing Secrets is middle grade, historical novel for girls. It's set in 1900 in San Francisco. This is the type of book I enjoyed reading when I was ten (though this novel was written in present tense, which I don't enjoy.). As an adult, I felt the characters in the first half were rather simplistic. They became more developed and felt more like real people in the second half, which made the sad part of the ending even more sad.
Rumors say the plague has come to San Francisco, but the adults don't want anyone panicking as it'd hurt trade. Our heroine was confused by the adults denying the plague while taking actions to prevent getting it. Racial prejudice against the Chinese immigrants meant that many blamed them. While helping her Chinese friends, Lizzie had some dangerous adventures and finally learned that her family really does care about her.
There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to history-curious tween girls.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
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