My rating: ★★★☆☆
Dear America is a middle grade series from Scholastic that explores in diary form the lives of young women and girls at important points in United States history. In A City Tossed and Broken, the young woman in question is Minnie Bonner, a young woman who is forced to take a position as a maid after her father gambles away almost everything the family owns. But when her employers are killed in the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Minnie faces dual dilemmas; as she grapples with the moral dilemma of using a young woman’s death to her advantage, she must escape the flames that are consuming San Francisco.
All in all, A City Tossed and Broken is both a reasonably educational glimpse at a historical disaster and an entertaining story that manages to be extraordinary without breaking one’s suspension of disbelief, and its fourteen-year-old female protagonist is both clever and competent in the face of extreme circumstances. After the epilogue of Minnie’s story, there is also a helpful section that elaborates on the historical disaster and features photographs of the damage done to the city.
I’d recommend the book to fans of MG and historical fiction, especially those with an interest in natural disasters and/or San Francisco. For children with an interest in natural disasters and/or San Francisco who can’t yet handle a book this size, I would recommend checking out Earthquake in the Early Morning by Mary Pope Osborne; for those interested in a nonfiction take on the 1906 disaster, I’d recommend the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast’s 2011 episode, History’s Unforgettable Fires.
And I will definitely be reading more of the Dear America series in the future.
A copy of this book was provided via Netgalley for the purpose of review.