Iris Anderson is learning to lie. It’s 1942 and her mother has committed suicide, her father lost a leg at Pearl Harbor, and they have to move to a poor area of the lower East side of New York just to make ends meet. Pop can’t keep up with his job anymore but forbids Iris form helping, but when a case involves someone at Iris’s new school she decides to break it herself. That means lying to all her friends, navigating the wrong crowds, anc uncovering secrets that will hit way too close to home.
Iris Anderson may just be my second favorite breakout character of the year! She is smart, funny, daring, loyal, and in waaaay over her head. She’s an above average teenage girl in her drive, ambition, pluck, and determination, but a realistic teen girl in her limitations, short sightedness, and occasional naivete. the real breakout star of the book is 1940s New York City. The author has recreated the sensation of living in the bustling city and filling it with life. However, she doesn’t sugar coat or white wash the class and race issues of the time period and actually ahs Iris face them head on. I respect when historical fiction deal with the glamour and the grime of history, otherwise they are betraying the truth and people that suffered injustice. The mystery is sometimes slow to build, but with a wonderful main character and fascinating setting it’s still a great journey. Best of all, this is the first young adult mystery (historical or otherwise) that had an ending that actually surprised me! The ending does leave a few loose ends for Iris and I hope she gets to tackle them in a sequel. Fans of historical fiction, mysteries, historical mysteries, or just good stories and great character and settings should grab this one.