Chasing Secrets

288p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Aug. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385742535.
Gr 5–8—Thirteen-year-old Lizzie is the daughter of Dr. Jules Kennedy, who practices medicine in turn of the 20th century San Francisco. The family resides in a house on Uncle Karl and Aunt Hortense's Nob Hill estate. There's Lizzie and her brother, Billy; Jing, the cook; Maggy, the maid; and—unbeknownst to all but Lizzie—Jing's son, Noah. Since Lizzie's mother died, Aunt Hortense has assumed a maternal role in Lizzie's upbringing, which includes making her attend Miss Barstow's School for Young Women. Unfortunately, the school offers little to nurture Lizzie's interest in science and medicine. While accompanying her father on house calls, Lizzie soon hears rumors of a plague. Then Jing goes missing. She suspects he might be under quarantine in Chinatown. But why is Chinatown the only area of the city under quarantine? And why aren't any medical staff or supplies being sent to the Chinatown residents? Despite the evidence, city officials and the medical community—including Lizzie's father—are denying the plague's existence. As the title suggests, various characters, along with the state and city government, harbor secrets. An author's note, time line, and bibliography document the historical facts and issues of the period.
VERDICT Choldenko's latest novel features a fast-paced plot that will appeal to lovers of both mystery and historical fiction. A first purchase.—Sharon M. Lawler, formerly of Randolph Elementary, Universal City, TX
, Jun 01, 2015

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