I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Contemporary Age Range: MG Star Rating: 3 stars Series: standalone
Josephine Williams is a future-focused, internet-loving eleven-year-old who is desperate to explore the world beyond her cul-de-sac – and her browser.
When she learns about Josephine Holloway – a woman who started the first Girl Scout Troop for Black girls in America – she’s certain she must start her own.
Enlisting her friends Margot Anderson and Wesley Evans, the trio begin their quest for their Camping Badge. Drawn to an abandoned factory nearby, they stumble across something strange. A square, ancient television and two tatty armchairs. Beside it, a wooden sideboard with an old photograph of a young, happy couple.
What is this? Who, or what, lives here – and why?
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I think the main reason I was disappointed with this book was the gap between my expectations and what I read. I was expecting a book that was much more of a mystery than I got, more in line with her previous books and the blurb, Instead, this felt much more like a contemporary about friendship and the injustice of the past.
The “mystery” of the people in the factory is solved as soon as they find the picture, which is about halfway through. The lead up to it is also very subtle/underplayed, more about Josie’s desire to get her club going than anticipation and speculation over the light in the abandoned factory. It doesn’t give the “mystery” element any sort of driving momentum, given it takes so long to get to the hook of the blurb and never feels like a major part of the book.
Once the “mystery” is solved, the book then focused on the children’s good intentions as they get to know the couple, and the injustice of their lives and what happens next. Plus the tensions between the children over Josie’s determined “organising” spills over, along with her feelings about the new baby brother who’s soon to arrive. It does really give the book a contemporary feel, focusing more on the kids as a friendship group with difficulties (just added a new member) and the difficulties of their private lives.
I think I might have enjoyed it more if I had been expecting that, rather than a mystery. Then I might have been more engaged with the kids because I wasn’t desperately on the look out for clues and motivation and red herrings.
Read my reviews of other books by Sharna Jackson:
High Rise Mystery:
- HIGH RISE MYSTERY (#1)