Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Fate of a City in a Monkey's Hands

Published: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Received: E-galley for review through Netgalley (Thanks Wendy Lamb Books!)

Lizzie doesn't have friends at school--Miss Barstow's, a school for young ladies to learn how to become perfect wives. Lizzie would rather read books or accompany her doctor father on visits to patients. That's why Lizzie can recognize the problems with the quarantine of Chinatown. Nobody is wearing protective gear, for one thing. But nobody will admit that the plague is in San Francisco. What lengths will adults go to in order to keep the news of plague quiet?

I remember reading Al Capone Does My Shirts when I was younger, and I enjoyed it. This book left me feeling a little unfulfilled. It was good, but I also felt like Choldenko tried to encompass too many threads without deeply exploring any. I thought the book was about the plague, but really that's tangential. It only becomes necessary to the plot when Choldenko wants it to. I also felt like Choldenko tried to include a love triangle without making it a love triangle? I know a lot of people have crushes at 13 (I was definitely one of them!), but I think that the way in which Choldenko writes Lizzie and the crushes it comes off as false. 

Overall, I would probably recommend this to middle grade readers looking for historical fiction set during this time period. I think it's unique in subject matter and setting.

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