This is a historical novel with a time-travel twist. Alf lives in America in 1837. He knows his family keeps secrets from him after finding a letter, but he doesn’t know exactly what these secrets are. But what he does know is the streets of Cincinnati at this time is a violent place with riots, persecution of black people and abolitionists wanting change.
A relative in the future, Abi lives in New Zealand in 2015. When her aunt discovers a forgotten tin truck and letters and newspaper clippings, Abi has a full-blown mystery on her hands, learning about Alf and his family in the past. A coin from the trunk proves to be magical when it transports her back to Alf’s time – to her surprise and his!
Alf and Abi, brought together across the centuries, pool their knowledge over Abi’s repeated trips. Eventually, Alf learns about the family secret, and he demands to be included in their plans. But he is soon caught up in something incredibly dangerous.
This is a fabulous story for young people that brings to life events of the real-life ‘Underground Railroad’ and the work of real-life abolitionists in a fictional way. The author has clearly done her research, but she does not let history overwhelm what is ultimately an enjoyable story that celebrates real-life heroes from the past.
It Happened on Fifth Street is the first in a new series, so it will be interesting to see what history the next book tackles!
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Getting a Grip Publishing