Stephanie Morrill is known for her work with young, aspiring writers. She’s a mentor to some, a guide for others. She’s also written six full-length novels and one novella. The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series provided a nice depiction of a real teen struggling with living a real faith. Most impressively (to me, anyway), Morrill’s two Ellie Sweet offerings (The Revised Life of
Ellie Sweet; The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet) are a beautiful portrayal of a teenager who is at once confident and uncertain.
Ellie Sweet struggles with friendships, romantic interests, and the real life that happens when you’re going through high school.
Morrill’s latest offering, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, is her first jump into historical fiction. Being a fan of historical fiction (especially the early 20th Century time period), I was excited to read it. But how does it stack up with her earlier works?
The Lost Girl of Astor Street offers an interesting glimpse into the 1920s Chicago scene as we meet Piper Sail. An 18-year-old-student, Piper turns into an amateur sleuth when her best friend, Lydia, suddenly disappears. Seeking the truth, but fearing the worst, the story speaks of Piper’s willingness to investigate despite the dangers, and her willingness to face the dark secrets that loom around her privileged Gilded-Age life as daughter of a high-profile lawyer.
While the story held promise, The Lost Girl of Astor Street seems to lack Morrill’s usual attention to her character’s internal conflicts. This one was significantly focused outside of the main character (a necessity since the story centered on her best friend’s kidnapping) but as such, it didn’t resonate with me as much as her previous novels. While the story on the whole was mildly entertaining, Piper Sail seemed pretty undeveloped to me. It’s a decent light read within the YA genre, and offers a few good themes – but the character development throughout the novel didn’t seem consistent. Combine this with a mystery that wasn’t particularly involved and included only the threat of danger, and I wasn’t significantly gripped by the story.
That said, I still recommend Morrill as an author. There was nothing truly disappointing about this novel, I just felt it lacked some of the vivid characterization found in her other novels. But for an entertaining mystery and some good relationships between characters, it’s a solid choice.