In Tyre’s debut middle-grade novel, a girl’s research into her family’s history uncovers racism and injustice both past and present.
Lou had prayed for an exciting summer, but fighting to save her 175-year-old family home from demolition wasn’t what she had in mind. When Lou overhears the city’s plan to seize the Mayhew family home, she and her friends make a plan. Their best chance is to register the house as a heritage site, so they search the museum, the library, and a Civil War–era diary written by Lou’s ancestor for evidence of its historical significance. Instead, they stumble upon another mystery: an unsolved murder and stolen gold. Excerpts from the diary make this feel like historical fiction; Louise Duncan Mayhew’s perspective in the 1860s is an intriguing contrast to Lou’s modern narration at the turn of the 21st century. A major theme is the persistence of racism. Tensions are running high in town after the high school football star loses a college scholarship because of the coach’s prejudice, and Lou’s neighbor, who is intrusively suspicious of a black man visiting their house, is as disappointing as her slave-owning, Confederate ancestor. In the end, Lou and her community learn that it’s never too late to right a wrong.
Though at times heavy-handed and didactic, the story addresses injustice in plain language that is accessible to young readers who enjoy whodunits. (Mystery. 9-12)