ARC Review: Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Chasing Secrets
Author: Gennifer Choldenko
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books: an imprint of Random House
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): 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.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Chasing Secrets is a book that really has it all!  This story is an excellent read that promotes history, while keeping readers on their toes. Choldenko has created another incredible middle grade historical fiction in Chasing Secrets. This time we learn about a deadly plague, a determined main character, and themes of family, friendship and secrets in the fast paced mystery.

Based on actual  events, Chasing Secrets tells the story of a plague outbreak in San Fransisco in 1900. The time period of this novel is so elegant and Choldenko depicts the horses, carriages and the dresses with so much detail that it is easy to envision the setting. Also, the history of the treatment of the Chinese during this era is explored and presented to the reader. It is very clear that Gennifer Choldenko has done some extensive research, as every detail seems so accurate and carefully written.

The main character in Chasing Secrets, Lizzie, is one that is so easy to relate to. Lizzie is very intelligent and decides to understand the plague. During this point in history, smart females are disrespected and have difficily fitting in. Lizzie is no exception. Choldenko writes about Lizzie’s struggles and shows the reader the importance of determination and self perseverance through this amazing protagonist.

Chasing Secrets is a book about family and friendship and protecting those you love. It is also about secrets kept from family members. These themes add to the mystery of the book. The secrets add an extra layer that makes reading this story phenomenal and keeps you turning the pages to learn more.

This step back in time is definitely educational and entertaining to read at the same time. It has a clever main character and themes that add to the book’s mystery. Chasing Secrets is a quick and enjoyable read for anyone who is interested in historical fiction.

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