Reviews for City Tossed and Broken : The Diary of Minnie Bonner


Booklist Reviews 2013 March #1
Can teen housemaid Minnie pretend to be wealthy young heiress Lily Sump after the latter is killed with her parents in San Francisco's devastating 1906 earthquake? Indeed, it is a chance to avenge her family after they had been swindled out of their livelihood by the corrupt Mr. Sump and his cronies. This tantalizing prospect propels Blundell's lively Dear America series entry. The vivid portrayal of the wreckage and ensuing fires captures the horror of the catastrophe and provides a striking backdrop to Minnie's wrenching drama and crisis response. Even an overly convenient ending does not lessen the pull of the fascinating concept at the story's core: Could we assume another person's life? Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
When lady's maid Minnie's wealthy employers are killed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Minnie is mistaken for their daughter. In a book that is both a mystery and a historical adventure, Minnie must decide if she should live a lie. As Dear America volumes reliably do, this fast-paced, engaging story gives readers a picture of an important historical event.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #2
National Book Award winner Blundell (What I Saw and How I Lied, 2008) explores the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires in this well-crafted, literary page turner. Resourceful, frank and observant, with a wry sense of humor, 14-year-old Minnie must take work as a lady's maid for the unscrupulous and ostentatious Sumps, who are moving to San Francisco, when her beloved and restless father gambles away the family's Philadelphia tavern. "I'd rather wash the greasiest pots in the tavern. I'd rather clean the fish," she confides in her diary. Mrs. Chester Sump, her remote, 16-year-old daughter Lily and Minnie arrive in San Francisco on April 17, 1906, just in time for the biggest society event of the season--Enrico Caruso's appearance in Carmen. At 5:12 the next morning, a massive earthquake tears through the city. The author deftly incorporates true events, circumstances and key historical figures into the rapidly unfolding fictional plot, in which Minnie is thrown into a moral dilemma after she is mistaken for someone else. Blundell achieves an impressive balance, portraying the catastrophic destruction and fight to save the city while imbuing the story with elements of mystery, melodrama and a Mark Twain–like sensibility. As Minnie uncovers truly corrupt and greedy goings-on, perpetrated by characters such as "Slippery Andy," and also witnesses heroic firemen in action, her sense of what it means to live with integrity crystallizes. Exciting, suspenseful, absorbing and informative. (epilogue, historical note, archival photographs, author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-13) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 May

Gr 5-8--When her father loses the family business in a series of bad bets, 14-year-old Minette Bonner must work off the debt as a lady's maid for a wealthy family, moving with them from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Minnie soon finds that her own family's losses are much more complicated than she originally thought. The Sumps, however, throw around money to assure their place in San Francisco society. Minnie arrives, along with Mrs. Sump and her daughter, Lily, just in time to overhear secrets that help explain her own family's troubles and to experience the 1906 earthquake. The quake throws the world into chaos and offers Minnie new choices, including the chance to masquerade as Lily in order to save her own family. When viewed through the lens of a story about a girl's new life in a new city, this novel fits with a middle school audience. When considering the complex socioeconomic and political issues at work, however, it will be appreciated by older students. An interesting piece of historical fiction and a solid purchase.--Sarah Knutson, American Canyon Middle School, CA

[Page 102]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2013 April
Minnie, only fourteen, is leaving one shattering situation for another. Her father, victim of a crooked card game, lost their family's tavern to the prominent Sump family, and his subsequent disappearance leaves Minnie and her mother suddenly bereft. For income, Minnie must serve as a lady's maid for the Sumps' daughter, Lily, so she resentfully accompanies them to San Francisco. Moving into their mansion is hectic, allowing Minnie to overhear Mr. Sump's dishonest deals, and to see his ledger containing her father's swindle. Later, her luggage missing, she borrows Lily's nightgown and wakes to the 1906 earthquake. The Sumps perish, but their attorney soon appears--and assumes Minnie is Lily (from the nightgown), with circumstances hardly conducive to explanations. Minnie ponders assuming Lily's heiress identity, but after the appearance of her father, seeking her and Sump's records to recoup his business, and a Philadelphia thief wanting the Sump fortune, she regains her sense of self and schemes to thwart the con while saving her family This large-print, fast-paced Dear America novel is narrated by Minnie via diary entries, and will captivate younger females. The earthquake's descriptions are chilling, with depictions of dazed citizens' varying positive and negative reactions, solidarity fighting numerous fires, and overwhelming commitment to rebuilding a stronger, less corrupt city equally compelling.-- Lisa A. HazlettEven though this is about Minnie, Lily seems the more intriguing character. She was either ignored or criticized, and her life was sad and hard, shocking Minnie. Lily takes Minnie's clothes, planning to wear them when eloping with Andrew, the Philadelphia con who only wants her father's money. It would have been nice to learn more of Lily's life, but overall the story was exciting, and its pictures and author information were especially interesting. 4Q, 2P.--Twila A. Sweeney, Teen Reviewer Historical Note. Photos. Author Note. 4Q 2P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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