This is not my first book by Choldenko, so I picked it from NetGalley with a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. It took me a while to get my oldest daughter to read the Al Capone books with me (ok, technically, I didn’t convince her to read them, but still, she read them with me eventually.)
Anyway, I read this one alone, but I have already recommended it to my daughters —it’s perfect for middle schoolers. Choldenko is back on familiar ground with a story set in San Francisco, this time in 1900. The fact that this book tackles issues of class and race is just one benefit, the power of the characters, the care she has taken with the setting, and the mysteries surrounding a quarantine for the plague provide the drama and tension. There are so many terrific, moving characters, and they have been realized with thoughtfulness and compassion. If you’re like me, you will be googling “plague in San Francisco” before you’ve finished. Years ago, the company I worked for made knock-off fragrances, and the slogan was, “If you like (CK1, etc.)… You’ll love (cheesy name that sounds sort of like it).” So, after reading this, I would say, if you like Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders, you’ll love Chasing Secrets, no matter how old you are. Because honestly, who doesn’t love a book about the plague now and then, to give your life a little perspective?