As you all know, good writers read.  Knowing that, I try to read.  Bunches, because I don’t just want to be a published author – I want to be an AWESOME writer.  Today I’m sharing a book I finished this morning with you;  Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams.

I started reading this book having no clue what it was about.  A writing friend of mine said she was enchanted with the story, so I picked it up from the library.  Imagine my surprise – it’s written for a middle grade audience!  I normally don’t care for middle grade stories, but this one is fabulous. It is about thirteen year old Sadie who has moved from Houston to Salt Lake City, and finds along with her younger sister and new friend an old journal in a “secret” room in the attic.  As they read through the journal and grow close to those who had lived in the past, they find encouragement and enlightenment for coping/overcoming the present.  The journal entries discuss the influenza epidemic of 1918.  The “present” is in 1980 and surrounds mother/daughter relationships.

The text is charming – I am absolutely in love with the way the author wrote her colors and used them for her chapter titles.  I haven’t seen that done before.   She had several nice tie-ins, and the flow was seamless.  The tone of the book was “sweet.”  I cried.  A LOT.  She did an excellent job of showing grief, depression, and family relationships.  Her  character development is solid.  I ADORE the next door neighbor that quickly becomes a friend, Bella.

To be honest, there are things about this book I did not like.  Those have to do with target audience and personal preference, not the writing. Except one tiny things… I wish she had handled the information dump that filled in all the missing years at the end differently.   Having said that, I’m sharing it with my daughter – it certainly will give insight to the Influenza Epidemic.  I suggest it to anyone that wants to enjoy a good read.