Thursday, January 21, 2016
Wendy Lamb Books, 2015
Source: Library, E-Galley
Newbery Honor–winning author Gennifer Choldenko deftly combines humor, tragedy, fascinating historical detail, and a medical mystery in this exuberant new novel.
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.
For a book about saving people, it sure was boring. Right when I thought the book would be over, it kept going. By that time, however, it had lost me. When I first started Chasing Secrets, I was intrigued by the female doctor angle. I liked Lizzie’s spunk and thought she was a cool character. I thought that Lizzie’s first secret would be the main point of the book, and it would have been fine if it was. Overall, it was decent, but the plot lines were all over the place. Character appearances weren’t consistent, either. I liked Lizzie’s new friend, but she was only in a portion of the book. Billy was around sometimes, and others not, and Noah just disappeared, like Jing. What a mess. It’s a shame, because the unique characters made the book stronger. Kids might find it fast-paced and entertaining, but it wasn’t for me.