Title: High-Rise SecretHigh-Rise Secret1
Author: Lois Lenski
Pages: 152
Reading Level: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★

From Lois Lenski, author of Deer Valley Girl and Strawberry Girl.

The Story.

Peggy and Pete Murphy aren’t quite sure what to think. At first they were excited about moving into the high-rise project – it seemed like a grant adventure – but now, things are bottoming out. The play areas are very small and ill equipped, not all of the other kids who live in the apartments are nice, and sometimes gangs of rough boys come through bullying the other children.

Peggy thinks she’s found a bright spot when she discovers a little kitten, but then she hears that pets aren’t allowed in the project. Can Peggy find a way to keep her cat without getting in trouble?

Discussion.

As Mrs. Murphy says in the last chapter,

“Porter Project is not an easy place to live,” said Mom, “with so many kinds of people all so close together. But if we live it all through, every minute of it, day by day, out of it some good will come. Or, in other words, it’s a good school for us, a good place to learn how to love our neighbor as ourself.” [pgs. 150-151]

The Murphys meet all sorts of people in their stay at High-Rise Project and, while some of them are nice, others are snotty, bullying, and outright mean. Interestingly enough, though, Peggy and Pete rank right up there with the rule-breakers – sure they don’t do anything to actually hurt anyone, but neither one of them really plays by the rules.

Take Peggy for instance – when she discovers that pets aren’t allowed in the project, she brings her kitten in anyway and tries to keep him a secret from the rest of the family. When her mom finds out about the cat, she begs her mother not to tell her father [who would most certainly object], but let the cat stay until its paw is healed.

Pete on the other hand enjoys himself by dipping into the local store’s dry fruit supply. He is observed and his behavior is later reported to his parents, but not before Peggy uses it as blackmail (promising not to tell about his behavior if he doesn’t tell about hers). In the end both their disobediences are discovered much to the flabbergation of their father (who had no clue his little preciouses were such criminals) and he lectures them soundly about what Murphys do and do not do. This isn’t such a bad concept, but it seems totally disconnected from who the children actually are (especially Pete, who is more hardened than Peggy).The end of the story has a very hopeful tone, but I can’t help but feel that the root problem was not addressed.

It is said that one of the people who lives in the tenement beats his wife, which scares their daughters. In one of the last scenes, a shooting takes place.

‘Gee’ is used four times, ‘gosh’ and ‘golly’ three times each.

Conclusion. Not the best story.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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