Cinnamon Moon by Tess Hilo is a story about the survival of a brother and sister from that small town and how they learned to survive without their parents. Alone as orphans in the city of Chicago, they survived with the help of new friends, during a time in our history when so many lost the world they once knew, and had to re-build their lives and their futures.
Ailis and her brother Quinn have moved to Chicago from the small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin after a fire killed their parents and young sister. They are being raised in a boarding house by a negative, controlled woman, Miss Franny. Since Chicago is also recuperating from the Great Fire of 1871, Ailis is glad that she and her brother, along with another orphan, Nettie, have food to eat and a place to sleep, but hopes for more. She takes a job with a German woman, Ida, in a millinery shop, and Quinn starts busking with his violin, making a lot more money that he thought possible. When Nettie goes missing, the two try to investigate, and uncover a plot to use very young children to help keep down the rat population. They find Nettie, who is too afraid to go back with them. Eventually, the two manage to tell an investigative reported about the scheme, and are able to find Nettie.
Modern readers will be drawn to the difficult circumstances under which Ailis and Quinn live, but will also secretly long for their freedom from parents. They may be a bit surprised at the prejudice against the Irish. This was just a very fun, very readable book, and happier than you would think.
I received this book from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.