When sisters Sadie and Zuzu Brooks move to Salt Lake City, they discover a secret room in the attic of their new house, with a sign that reads “Palace Beautiful” and containing an old journal. Along with their neighbor, dramatic Belladonna Desolation (real name: Kristin Smith), they take turns reading the story of a girl named Helen living during the flu epidemic of 1918. The journal ends with a tragedy that has a scary parallel to Sadie and Zuzu’s lives, and the girls become obsessed with finding out what happened to Helen after the journal ends. Did she survive the flu? Is she still alive somewhere? Or could her ghost be lurking in the nearby graveyard? Sarah DeFord Williams has created a gripping read that covers two time periods, many fantastic characters, and a can’t-put-it-down ending, all with delightful, extraordinary prose. (Goodreads)
Reviewed by Brooke—Wife, Mother, Reader
I loved PALACE BEAUTIFUL. Loved it! Here are some of the reason I love this book:
1. The main character, Sadie, moves from Houston to Salt Lake City. I have lived in both of these cities and I can relate to both of the locations that the author writes about (especially missing the Blue Bell Ice Cream from Texas).
2. Sadie is 13 in 1985. I was 13 in 1985! I totally get the 80's.
3. Sadie just moved and I just moved. So I get the upheaval of everything, leaving everything behind, and yet still excited for the possibilities of the future.
4. Sadie has a likable voice. I loved seeing inside her head.
5. I would call this book wholesome. However, it isn't boring. There is plenty of adventure and getting in trouble, it just isn't the drugs/jail time kinda trouble.
6. I like history. For good portions of the book Sadie is reading a journal kept by a 13 year old girl from 60+ years before. It is heart wrenching at times, but also fascinating to read about a girl's experience from the past.
7. Sarah Williams has created a book that my daughters and I can understand and enjoy (and it has a happy ending, I like happy endings).
Market: Young Adult, Historical
Mature Themes: Spanish Influenza, death