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BEHIND THE MASKS by Susan Patron


The Diary of Angeline Reddy, Bodie, California, 1880

From the Dear America series

by Susan Patron

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-545-30437-5
Publisher: Scholastic

A not-so-shy Angeline is a force for justice in a Wild West town that is out of control.

In 1880s Bodie, Calif., there is no safety. Criminals run amok, along with a corrupt sheriff and a vigilante gang, all striking terror into bad guys and decent citizens alike. When Angie Reddy’s father, a renowned criminal lawyer, is said to have been murdered, neither Angie nor her mother believes it. Angie sets out to find answers and discovers that she is pluckier, stronger and more determined than she believed herself to be. She is aided in her quest by the mysterious Ling Loi, new friend Ellie, young, handsome Antoine and the Horrible performance group. Together they bravely encounter cruelty, kindness, adventure and a host of fascinating and frightening characters. The female characters, missing from so much of the Western genre, are strong, passionate and enduring, with fully developed back stories. As Momma says, “[W]omen out west need to be ready to do most anything.” Employing the diary format common to the Dear America series, would-be writer Angie paints a vivid picture of her life in that time and place. Primitive medicine and dentistry, gossip, prejudices, education, local politics, even clothing, parties and romance are all woven into Angie’s account, adding richness and texture to the plot.

A rip-roaring tale with a satisfying conclusion. (author’s note, historical note) (Historical fiction. 9-14)