In this entry in a series of heroic-girl survival stories, Emmi must escape the relentless flames of the Great Chicago Fire.
Emmi has lived in Chicago for two years, but she still misses the high mountaintops and fresh air of her hometown in Germany. She immigrated with her father, her only family, so he could start a toy shop in America. Emmi doesn’t think she will ever fit in. Seamus and Cara, a pair of Irish-immigrant twins, are particularly cruel to her. However, once the wall of fire begins to advance across the city and Emmi is separated from her father, she suddenly finds that her two enemies might be her only chance of survival. Emmi, Seamus, and Cara run through choking smoke and burning embers, trying to outmaneuver the flames. Perilous close calls, with some admittedly convenient coincidences, make for a gripping storyline. Although all three primary characters are white, Alikhan does explore prejudices immigrants faced along with tensions between religious groups. An author’s note further explains that the Great Fire had a way of equalizing everyone. Tragedy often brings unity. Alice on the Island, Ann Fights for Freedom, and Noelle at Sea publish simultaneously, spotlighting Pearl Harbor, the Underground Railroad, and the Titanic, respectively.
Fast-paced intrigue, especially for reluctant readers; there may be a plethora of survival stories, but this one doesn’t disappoint. (glossary, connection questions) (Historical fiction. 7-10)