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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Heart-Tugging Paper Daughter A Clean, Compelling YA Mystery

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Maggie Chen has always wanted to be a reporter like her dad.  So, the 16-year-old is thrilled to be interning in the newsroom of his paper, the Herald.  Even if her dad is no longer there, even if the smell of newsprint makes her miss him so badly it hurts, even if maybe she's not really cut out for the profession her dad loved so much.  If only she could talk to him about it all.  But, she can't—her father's dead, killed by a hit-and-run driver just before Maggie's internship began.  

Determined to do her father proud, Maggie throws herself into learning the ropes at the newspaper.  It's tougher than she expected, but soon, she sniffs out a real story.  As the teen heads into Seattle's Chinatown to investigate, she discovers that things—not just with her assignment, but also with her dad's death—are not exactly what they seem.  Wading through all the secrets and lies, many of them told by her own parent, Maggie must figure out what's true and what's not.  What kind of story was Mr. Chen investigating in Chinatown?  How did he really die?  And what connection does Maggie have to a Chinese peasant girl named Fai-yi Li?  Finding the answers means facing the (sometimes ugly) truth—about her father, her family, and herself.  Is she strong enough?  Or will unraveling all these mysteries just bring more hurt to the already-grieving teenager?   

Paper Daughter, a new YA novel by Jeanette Ingold, offers up so many of my favorite story elements: compelling characters, an intriguing mystery, tight plotting, vivid prose, and, at its center, a teenager's heart-tugging search for self.  And it's a clean book, to boot!  That's a rarity in and of itself.  This winning combination made for a story I enjoyed immensely and recommend without hesitation.  If you happen to belong to a mother/daughter book club, this would be a perfect pick.   

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of The Dragon's Child by Laurence Yep and The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman)

Grade:  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for some violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Paper Daughter from the generous folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Thank you!

         

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