The Secret Letters

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. (Mysteries of Trash and Treasure: Bk. 1). Sept. 2022. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062838520.
Gr 4-6–Two sets of friends, separated by 50 years, are the heart of an engrossing historical fiction and mystery tale. In modern-day Groveview, OH, Colin and Neveah discover shoe boxes of letters written by Toby and Rosemary who lived there in the 1970s. The letters reveal details of Toby and Rosemary’s close friendship which came to a dramatic and mysterious end. Intrigued, Colin and Neveah begin a search for clues to find out what happened to the old friends—and possibly reunite them. Their search uncovers long-buried family secrets and the surprising ways people’s lives are connected. Readers will be invested in Colin and Neveah’s burgeoning friendship as they grow to understand and support each other despite a big obstacle: their parents operate rival junk-removal businesses in the same town. Even worse, Neveah’s dad suspects Colin’s mom in the puzzling disappearance of valuable antiques he had hoped to sell. The solution to that second mystery seamlessly integrates the history of the modern women’s rights movement into the character-driven narrative. It also brings the novel to a satisfying end and sets up Colin and Neveah’s future as detectives. Master storyteller Haddix is in top form, weaving a complex tapestry of different genres, time lines, and generations of characters in a can’t-put-it-down novel.
VERDICT A winning start to a new series and a first purchase for all middle grade collections.

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