Saltwater Secrets

S. & S./Aladdin. Apr. 2020. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534417441.
Gr 4-6–Each summer, half sisters Josie and Stella spend several weeks with their father at the New Jersey shore. Since the girls live with their mothers on opposite sides of the world (Josie in Australia, Stella in New York City), it’s the only time they get to see each other. It has always been a special time, and the girls put mementos from their adventures in a box that they hide in the sand under the boardwalk. This summer, however, something has changed. Stella wants to do different things, and Josie passionately boycotts the new Smoothie Factory, which replaced Water Ice World. Next, they discover someone has stolen their box of memories, and when Josie suggests starting a new one, Stella only half-heartedly agrees. Then, what’s different suddenly becomes more nefarious as the girls (along with their friends) become entangled in a web of sinister actions that could endanger both humans and sea life at Whalehead Beach. The cast of characters features blended families, and the environmental story line is both relevant and timely. Callaghan creates great suspense by having each chapter alternate between the recent past (within a month) and the present, where Stella and Josie are being interviewed by a police detective.
VERDICT This fast-moving story will appeal to young teen and tween readers who enjoy books with an oceanside theme, and its spirited heroines will resonate with those who dream of making a difference in the world.

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