Palace Beautiful, Sarah DeFord Williams's first novel, published by Putnam, debuts in two weeks, and we're so happy that she has received this lovely starred review from School Library Journal ahead of publication:
"In the mid-1980s, 13-year-old Sadie Brooks and her younger, tantrum-prone sister, Zuzu, arrive at their new house in Salt Lake City with their father and pregnant stepmother. Kristin (aka Belladonna Desolation, or Bella) lives with her demanding mother and feels like an 'extra'–a child her mother didn’t want. She and Sadie become close while investigating the possibilities of ghosts in the nearby graveyard. When the girls find a crawl space in Sadie’s attic, they are amazed to also discover a doorway with the words 'Palace Beautiful' painted over it. Inside the small space is a journal, and when Zuzu bursts in at the same moment they find it, the team of two becomes a gang of three. They take turns reading the diary, which dates from 1918 and was written by a girl named Helen White. She describes the very room in which the three girls are sitting; her family, including a baby brother who is not expected to survive; and the town’s battle with deadly influenza. The children decide to try to track Helen down, and their heartfelt quest results in an unforgettably sweet conclusion. Williams does a super job with the characters in this beautifully written book, and it is satisfying to see how they develop."