Review of The Secret Letters

The Secret Letters The Secret Letters [Mysteries of Trash & Treasure]
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Intermediate     Tegen/HarperCollins    400 pp.
9/22    9780062838520    $17.99
e-book ed.  978006283854    $12.99

Colin, an only child, and Nevaeh, the youngest of five, are both reluctantly working at their families’ businesses for the summer. At Possession Curation, Colin is tempted to rescue items his ultra-minimalist mother culls from her clients’ homes but mostly settles for taking pictures of them, finding beauty in unwanted objects. Nevaeh’s father loves being the Junk King, but Neveah would prefer a little less mess in her life. Colin finds a box of letters from the 1970s in an attic and becomes caught up in the story of former friends Rosemary and Toby. A hunch about where he might find the other half of the correspondence brings him into Nevaeh’s path, and the two become friends while searching for Rosemary and Toby and trying to figure out what drove them apart. When a brewing conflict between their parents intensifies, Colin and Nevaeh end up solving the mystery of the broken friendship as well as that of an empty storage unit, allowing the adults to resolve longtime misunderstandings. Haddix packs a lot into a fast-paced novel, and she does so while keeping the focus on the plot. Issues of class, equality, and self-determination are touched on in a slightly convoluted but ultimately unexpected and satisfyingly resolved mystery.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Rettger
Sarah Rettger is an independent bookseller in Boston.

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