CHASING SECRETS by Gennifer Choldenko
At the turn of the twentieth century, San Francisco is a bustling hub of industry with ships coming into port from all over the world. When rumors begin to circulate that a ship has brought the bubonic plague, the educated members of society and doctors, such as Lizzie’s father, do their best to reassure people that there is no plague danger. But Aunt Hortense is still reluctant to the let Lizzie go with her father on his medical calls, which she considers to be unbecoming for a young woman even without the danger of plague. Lizzie still manages to get herself tangled up in the plague controversy, however, when the nervous citizens erect a quarantine around Chinatown. The family’s cook, Jing is trapped in the quarantine, and Lizzie discovers that Jing has been hiding a secret at home: his son, Noah. As Lizzie tries to find a way to get Jing out of the quarantine, she begins to uncover more secrets and isn’t sure she likes what she finds.
This well-written historical fiction novel is difficult to put down. Every aspect of it is engaging–from Lizzie’s struggles with friendships at school to her controversial dreams of being a doctor to the secrets surrounding the plague scare and the racism it fueled. I highly recommend it to middle grade readers who enjoy historical fiction!
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