Louisa May Alcott can hardly believe her ears—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and her father won't do anything to stop her. How is Louisa to find the time to write her stories if she has to add taking care of her father and sister to her list of chores? And why can't she escape the boredom of her small town to have an adventure of her own? Little does Louisa know just how interesting her small world is about to become. Before long she is juggling her stubborn father, a fugitive slave who is seeking safety along the Underground Railroad, and possibly even love where she least expects it. Add the mysterious murder of a slave catcher to the mix, and Louisa has her hands full. Michaela MacColl has once again intertwined the facts of a beloved author's real life with a suspenseful fictional tale that will not only have readers on the edges of their seats but also, like Louisa, debating right versus wrong, family versus independence, and duty versus love.
A Junior Library Guild selection
As in Always Emily and Nobody's Secret, MacColl again delivers a historical novel based on a 19th-century writer and her problematic family: this time Louisa May Alcott and the community of transcendentalists in Concord, Mass. Set over a few days in the summer of 1846 when the 15-year-old budding writer is in charge of the household, the story compellingly presents the conflicts between principles and practicality, as Louisa's challenging relationship with her idealistic father, Bronson, grows especially fraught. She also faces a slew of unexpected problems, notably the arrival of a noxious slave catcher in pursuit of the fugitive slave the Alcotts are harboring, who seems to have potentially harmful information about their good friends Henry Thoreau and the Emersons. On his heels comes distant cousin Fred, suddenly grown tall and handsome, with a new interest in Louisa. Intrigue quickly builds on several fronts, and a climactic crisis forces Louisa, with sister Beth's help, into some detective work, delivering a resolution that is likely to surprise. An author's note recounts the factual bases for the novel and includes Alcott's biographical information. A satisfying, thought-provoking read. Ages 12 up. Agency: Sterling Lord Literistic.