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The Secret Apartment

Review

The Secret Apartment

It's the worst summer of 11-year-old Jillian's life. She and her mother have moved to a New York apartment from their house in Pennsylvania to live with Jillian's new stepfather and a mean stepsister, Mariella. Jillian misses her home and friends, and yearns for her father, who died a few years ago.

Jillian's life turns even worse when her parents enroll her in a hippie-dippy day camp where her counselor, Rainbow, forces the kids to sit in a peace circle and make their own "special sounds." Mrs. Whiteflower, a sculptor who lives in the penthouse of Jillian's apartment building, saves the day by offering Jillian an afternoon cat-sitting job. It will work out perfectly, since camp is in the morning. Not only will she earn $25 a day, but Jillian (an artist) can help herself to any of Mrs. Whiteflower's art supplies.

Jillian makes a friend, Emily. Before long, the two girls are ditching their respective lame day camps to hang out in Mrs. Whiteflower's cool apartment all day and observe the fascinating people who are living their lives in nearby apartments.

But among the people cooking, talking on phones, arguing and watching television, they spy a mystery. Who is the handsome teen boy who sits alone, day after day, staring at the wall? When the girls finally discover who the mystery guy is, they're shocked. They know they must take action, but they're impeded at every turn.

Meanwhile, Mariella continues to be a total pain except when she's crying into the phone. Is it boy problems, as Jillian first assumes? Or could there be more to Jillian's wicked stepsister than her snotty persona suggests?

This is an enjoyable mystery with a funny, likeable main character who grows and changes in a satisfying manner through the course of the story. New York is an integral player in the plot, and is described so strongly that I feel as if I've visited Jillian's new city. Recommended as a quick, light read for mystery lovers.

P.S. I will never look at cheese again in the same light!

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on June 12, 2007

The Secret Apartment
by Natalie Fast

  • Publication Date: June 12, 2007
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0553487949
  • ISBN-13: 9780553487947