In the novel, The secret Diary of Sarah Chamberlin, the main character Emily Grace, nicknamed Em throughout the piece, is the daughter a member in the Chamberlin Society, which is a group of women aiming to preserve historical artefacts in her home state. Em has become a member of this organization because of her mother's involvement, so when she is cleaning out the home of Sarah Chamberlin, the previous owner, Em accidentally steps on a plywood board, revealing a diary belonging to the previous owner. However, this secret diary’s not the only thing in Emily’s life. Her mother’s sister, aunt Katy, has been experiencing financial troubles and her parents don’t have the ability to help Katy reclaim her house because of Em’s medical treatments. As Em furthers herself into the reading of the diary, she finds clues related to the confederate gold and she wants to locate it in order to save her aunt. Em also has internal struggles with Josh (a new friend), her parent’s financials, and even God. She feels like there is not a lot left in her tank to keep going through her hardships, but when Em hits her head in the attic of the Chamberlain house, everything changes... including the time and year.
The book is almost written for beginner readers, so there is no social or historical context necessary. I am a Canadian citizen and without prior knowledge of the American Revolution or the confederate gold, the book is tremendously good at hand holding you throughout Em’s personal discoveries. It was unchartered territory for me, and the book was very good at creating a fictional account of what might have happened before.
The writing style, I found a little bit annoying, because it felt more like it was a child's book. I was disappointed in it and found that there was no complex language to propel or challenge the reader. I was expecting a little more sophistication, but there was none and I felt a little childish as I read it.
The piece was a fun and light read, however I found the writing style to be quite a let-down. There was no context you needed prior to the book which made it less work for the reader; however I thought it might have been a stronger piece if there was better language used. I personally felt like it had more potential and that I could have written a piece of equal strength. It also brought up a lot of religious aspects which I was not originally expecting, and I felt like it was less about the story and more about the underlying message of religion. I still did enjoy a break from other harsh and complex novels but felt as though my reading skills greatly surpassed what was written. I would recommend it for kids 13 and under and suggest that parents read through first to ensure that their child is comfortable with the messages about God within the piece.
Book Reviewed by Emily Hardy
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