Under the Egg: A Book Review

Hello!

Well, long time no blog, friends?! :) I apologize for my little disappearance {a weekend of performances leaves little time for much else}, but I figured I would kick the week off with a middle grade review!

Under the EggTitle: Under the Egg

Author: Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Published: March 18th, 2014 by Dial

Pages: 247

Genre: Middle Grade / Mystery

Source: Library / Hardcover

Series: Nope!

Summary: When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen. 

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo’s search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she’ll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time. {Goodreads}

My Thoughts: Mysteries shaped my childhood reading; from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler {which this book was compared to, making it a must for my 2014 debut novels list} to The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, I tried my best to read them all. While I don’t read middle grade mysteries as often as I used to, I make time to pick out some of the newer ones to read. Under the Egg seemed too good to pass up. Art, libraries, and history?! I’m down. Thankfully, the novel didn’t disappoint! :)

Theo’s grandfather was everything to her. Her mother’s care leaving much to be desired, he was practically her guardian. So, as it would be expected, when he dies, Theo’s world is turned upside down as she struggles to care for herself and her mom in the grueling New York summer heat. When she accidentally spills rubbing alcohol on one of her grandfather’s paintings while cleaning one day, Theo did not think she would find another masterpiece underneath. And there begins our mystery! Unlike some of the books in this genre, this mystery did not focus so much on the action as it did on the actual story. I enjoyed it for this reason, as I always like a refreshing take on things. While some of the story {and please do realize I am trying not to give too much away here!} seemed too much of a coincidence to be realistic, I, in all truth, didn’t mind it because the author dealt with it so flawlessly. Laura Marx Fitzgerald is pretty darn talented to make me believe, in the time that I read the book, that Theo could successfully solve the mystery in such little time and with minimal resources!

Theo was a strong main character. In middle grade, the protagonist can sometime fall into the trap of always being the odd one out. While this may be essential to some stories, it can be the pitfall to others. With Under the Egg, Theo had her quirks, but it wasn’t the ONLY thing about her. I adored delving into the mystery with her, and along the way, it was easy to recognize her character growth. The supporting characters were the same. Bodhi, Theo’s new friend, especially developed a lot throughout the novel. Friendships for the win, yes?!

I think the only place where potential readers may be turned off is how slow the mystery is. As I said above, this is a story that does not rely on action to move the plot along. I’m hoping that people could look past that {because it is a delightful debut}, but if you’re looking for adventure and mystery, this may not be for you. However, in my case, I can’t wait for the next book from Laura Marx Fitzgerald!

Pros: The writing was terrific, and the mystery had strong development {i.e. any holes in the story were little to none}. I also thought the main character and many of the supporting characters showed development and growth throughout the novel.

Cons: You’re really going to have to suspend your disbelief throughout the story! The pacing of the plot was a bit slow as well; action lovers may be bored.

Heads Up: Nothing major, from what I can remember.

Overall: I give it 4 stars {****}, and I recommend it for ages 11 and up.

Have a terrific night!
Bella

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