[Book Review] Down the Rabbit Hole by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Down the Rabbit Hole, Chicago, Illinois, 1871: The Diary of Pringle Rose (Dear America)Down the Rabbit Hole by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

My rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Down the Rabbit Hole was an immense disappointment; I can’t recall the last time I was so emotionally frustrated by a book. Compared to the other two Dear America books I’ve read (A City Tossed and Broken and Color Me Dark), Down the Rabbit Hole was a hot mess.

At its core, Down the Rabbit Hole is the story of a young woman whose life goes to hell after her parents die. She faces heartbreak, betrayal, and abandonment, all of which are great plot elements to have… as long as the narrative deals with them appropriately. Down the Rabbit Hole fails miserably in this regard.

Over the course of the book, young Pringle and Gideon are beaten by their aunt, who never faces any repercussions for her actions. They are involved in a train accident in which their cat, Mozie, disappears into the wilderness and is never seen again. When they arrive in Chicago, they learn that their family friend and hopeful guardian has been committed to a sanitarium because her father got sick of her crusading for animal rights. When Pringle is reunited with her love interest through a ludicrously massive coincidence, he admits to inadvertently killing her parents, at which point Pringle’s only friend in the world and one of the only level-headed and kind people in the book throws Pringle and Gideon out onto the street during the Great Chicago Fire. She says she never wants to see Pringle again, because apparently who you father was is more important than who you’ve proven yourself to be.

By the end of the book, it had become clear that Pringle’s story wasn’t so much a story as it was a collection of extremely depressing, often contrived misfortunes that ultimately added up to an emotionally shallow book and a dissatisfying reading experience.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Down the Rabbit Hole to anyone other than lovers of tragedy. To anyone intending to read their first Dear America book, I would strongly recommend picking one other than this.

A copy of this book was provided via Netgalley for the purpose of review.


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