The Lost Girl of Astor Street
- Click here to read Rachel A.'s review.
Review #1 by Harleen K., Teen Board Member
When Lydia DeVine goes missing, Piper Sail will not sit back and wait for the authorities to find her best friend. Yet, when Piper discovers clues to Lydia's possible whereabouts she must struggle through the corruption and dangers present in the streets of 1924 Chicago. With the help of her childhood friend, Walter, her neighbors and Detective Mariano Cassano, Piper will stop at nothing to find her friend.
"I fell in love with THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET because of its strong heroine and adorable romance, but it also kept me locked in with the mystery. If you have an interest in jazz or the 1920s I would definitely pick up this book...."
THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET by Stephanie Morrill was honestly a pleasant surprise. It is a combination of historical fiction, mystery and romance, which I loved. The mix of mystery and romance was perfectly balanced, and neither aspect was overbearing, so I never got bored with the story. On top of that, the book was written with 1920's dialogue and incorporated many reference to jazz and the Chicago mafia that made the book very interesting.
My favorite part of the book was definitely Piper because she was a strong, feminist character who to me seemed to want nothing radical, only equality, but when that was put into perspective of the time period it was evident how forward-minded she was. The book even begins with Piper shocked that a man would treat her with disrespect and take her chair, so right from the start the author created a strong heroine who I fell in love with. At times, Piper also reminded me of Audrey Rose from Kerri Maniscalco's STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, which was also a historical mystery, so if you have read that book I would definitely recommend this, as well.
I mainly picked this book up because I wanted to start reading more mysteries, but I have to say the romance really made the book for me. I thought it was adorable, and it never seemed unrealistic or overdone. Also, it seemed more original when it was surrounded by this new atmosphere of 1924 Chicago which was filled with jazz and the mafia. So, if you are looking for a romance, since it is February, I would definitely recommend this as something a little different than a typical contemporary.
Overall, I fell in love with THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET because of its strong heroine and adorable romance, but it also kept me locked in with the mystery. If you have an interest in jazz or the 1920s I would definitely pick up this book because the author incorporated the time period very well, and it was fun read.
Piper Sail is devastated when her lifelong best friend goes missing. Determined to find Lydia no matter the cost, Piper embarks on a journey through the seedy underbelly of Chicago, were she encounters mobsters, family secrets and ultimately, self-discovery.
THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET exceeded my expectations. The main plot and subplots were well balanced and, in the case of Piper’s evolution, complex. Morrill paced her mystery with a slow build to a fast 40-page climax. Somewhere in the last third of the book I started to wonder if who took Lydia and why was ever going to be revealed and another concern I had at that point was how the author was going to wrap up the story. But by the end, Morrill had dispelled my doubts and surprised me. She wrapped everything up nicely, leaving on an ending satisfying enough to be a standalone but also open enough to be a series starter.
"THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET was a highly enjoyable, multi-faceted, 1920s mystery. I'd recommend this novel to anyone with an affinity for historical fiction, mysteries and coming of age stories."
I thought the mystery was well plotted and unpredictable, and the clue placement was masterful. The clues are present without being obvious to the reader until the conclusion. While I don't really like the 1920s as an era, I thoroughly enjoyed it in THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET. Every time I opened the book I found myself sucked into the plot and fully immersed in the time period. I think historical accuracy makes historical fiction all the better and I was pleased to find Morrill's depiction of the 1920s spot on and well researched. She included references to music, films, fashion, literature, food and various household appliances and cleaners. She also referenced famous figures of the day. Some notable mentions include: Al Capone, Agatha Cristie, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Rudolph Valentino and Bessie Smith. I greatly appreciated that the author crafted her mystery with intrigue rather than excessive violence and crude language, making it, in my opinion, a true mystery and opening it up to a wider audience.
In regards to characters, Piper surprised me. I thought she was going to be one of those insufferable "I-don't-fit-in-my-time-period," "not-your-average-girl,” and tomboy types, but she wasn't. She was a girl at the end of childhood, trying to find her place in the world, which is something I think we all can relate to. Piper's character development was great. I enjoyed the way her character growth continued to build on itself throughout the story. Piper's character arc was very similar to Princess Dorthea's in SPELLED: The Storymakers Book One by Betsy Schow, (another book I'd recommend). I wasn't real big on Marino and his relationship with the protagonist at first (I had other guys in mind for her), but as the novel progressed I became okay with them together.
I was not fond of her family as they were all insensitive, self-absorbed and rude for the majority of the book, in particular her brother Nick. He was an abusive, hateful person. As for Piper’s father, Mr. Sail, I disliked his relationship with his girlfriend for two reasons. The first and biggest being the HUGE age gap. Age gaps in fiction and real life gross me out, so that aspect was unwelcome. The second reason being I just don't like Jane.....at all! I also didn't care much for Alana either. I found her to be among other things terribly annoying. Overall, however, I found most of the characters in the book to be okay.
So in the end THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET was a highly enjoyable, multi-faceted, 1920s mystery. I'd recommend this novel to anyone with an affinity for historical fiction, mysteries and coming of age stories.
Just a quick note to younger readers, this book contains mature themes such as child abuse, prostitution, murder, as well as smoking and drinking. Even though the author kept it clean by not going into great detail, I'd still recommended it to readers ages 14 and up.
Reviewed by Harleen K., Teen Board Member and Rachel A., Teen Board Member on March 31, 2017