Friday, December 23, 2011

Book review: Dear America: Behind the Masks by Susan Patron

Dear America: Behind the Masks by Susan Patron (Published by Scholastic, January 1, 2012)

Fourteen-year-old Angeline Reddy lives in the wild mining town of Bodie, California, in 1880. Her father is a famous criminal defense lawyer who is known for having never lost a case. But when he is presumed murdered, Angie doesn't believe it, and neither does her mother. Many people could have wanted her father dead, but Angie is sure he is alive and in hiding.

Angie is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to her father, but it will be difficult. Bodie is wild and dangerous, and a gang of vigilantes is causing trouble in town. On top of everything else, her mother is ill, and there seems to be a ghost haunting their house. Can Angie, with the help of her friends, solve the mystery in time?

Behind the Masks is a bit different than other books in the Dear America series. It's still written in the usual diary format, but instead of being about just the daily life of a young girl from an important place or time in American history, this particular book has a strong central plot, which is Angie solving the mystery of what happened to her father. As a result, it didn't seem as much like a "real" diary, since the diary entries are really long (since it's a 300 page book set over about four weeks). I still really enjoyed the book, and recommend it to readers who love historical fiction set in the Old West, but at times it didn't seem much like a Dear America book.

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