FALLEN GRACE

In the years since their mother’s death, Grace Parkes, 16, and her developmentally disabled sister, Lily, 17, have struggled to survive on their own in Victorian London. While surreptitiously depositing her stillborn child, conceived under horrific circumstances, at a cemetery, Grace is offered employment as a “mute” (hired mourner) in the Unwin family’s booming funeral business. Desperation soon forces her to take the job, although it means separation from Lily, who is sent to be a maid at the Unwin residence. The crooked, opportunistic Unwins have their fingers in many pies, and when they discover that Lily is heiress to a fortune, they plot to obtain it for themselves. When Lily disappears, it’s up to Grace—armed only with wits, beauty and a chance meeting with a young law clerk—to find her sister and claim their inheritance. Hooper, author of many historical novels, packs her brisk Dickensian fable with colorful characters and suspenseful, satisfying plot twists. The sobering realities of child poverty and exploitation are vividly conveyed, along with fascinating details of the Victorian funeral trade. (historical note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

 

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59990-564-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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An important, well-executed work of historical fiction.

BLUEBIRD

The story of two teenagers at the end of World War II: one raised by Nazis, the other a German immigrant new to the United States.

It’s 1946, and Eva is arriving in America, a refugee from Germany. The narrative then flips to 1945. Sixteen-year-old Inge has been raised a Nazi, her doctor father a prominent figure and integral part of the concentration camps. In the aftermath of the war, Inge realizes the atrocities her father and her people were responsible for and vows to atone for the murdered innocents. These are postwar young women hoping to do right by their complicated pasts, the story alternating between their points of view. While the horrors of the Holocaust are certainly discussed, the brutal realities of postwar Germany and the gray areas between good and evil offer a lesser-seen view of World War II. Cameron slowly, delicately weaves these seemingly disparate stories into one seamless storyline. As the two merge into one, there are twists and turns and plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments, even if the pace is a little inconsistent. The grim realities will stay with readers long beyond the book; the truths shared are honest but not gratuitous. All of the main characters are White, though African American artist Augusta Savage plays a minor role, and some background characters are people of color.

An important, well-executed work of historical fiction. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35596-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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