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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is a sequel to the 2007 Newbery Honor winner Hattie Big Sky..

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

When 17-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks failed to make a go of her deceased uncle's Montana homestead, she ended up working as a boardinghouse chambermaid. Now it's 1919, and Hattie has finished paying off her uncle's debts. Charlie, who wants to marry Hattie, and Hattie's friend Perilee urge her to join them in Seattle. But Hattie has decided she wants to be a newspaper reporter. She can't settle down until she has followed her dream.

Hattie takes a job with a traveling vaudeville act, mending costumes. This gets her to San Francisco. There, she tracks down a mystery woman named Ruby Danvers, who had sent her uncle a love letter. She hopes to unravel the secret of her uncle's past and learn why he referred to himself as a scoundrel. Ruby takes Hattie under her wing, spending time with her and helping her purchase new clothes appropriate for a city girl. Hattie boldly enters the San Francisco Chronicle building — and secures a night-shift cleaning job. Her friend Maude from the vaudeville troupe introduces her to her brother, Ned. Ned is a reporter at the Chronicle, and he becomes romantically interested in Hattie.

During her night job, Hattie digs around in the newspaper morgue looking for news about her uncle. She gets an article idea about women continuing to hold jobs in the aftermath of war. Her co-worker, named Spot, helps her locate several women to interview. Hattie helps some of the Chronicle reporters locate information in the morgue, and she's soon given a part-time job as a research assistant, on top of her cleaning job.

When the paper needs a sports story written, Hattie jumps at the chance. She suggests that if she can pitch well enough to strike out another reporter, she should get the story. The staff rounds up some baseball gear and goes outside to watch as Hattie uses the pitching techniques Charlie taught her. She earns the story, but not a byline.

A famed opera star backs out of a highly publicized plane ride at the last minute. The pilot invites Hattie to fly in the state-of-the-art aircraft and write about it. Hattie also gets stuck in an elevator with President Wilson and scoops the many reporters awaiting him outside. When the Chronicle's managing editor gets his hands on Hattie's women in the workplace article, he reluctantly offers her a job as a reporter. Hattie receives help and advice from the only other female reporter at the Chronicle, a fiery woman named Miss D'Lacorte.

As Hattie rises in the ranks, she continues correspondence with Perilee and the heartbroken Charlie. Charlie visits a few times. Though Hattie still turns him down, she recognizes how much she misses him. Ruby tells Hattie about her sick 10-year-old daughter, who lives out of town. She borrows money from Hattie several times to pay medical bills and travel expenses. Hattie is particularly concerned and sympathetic as the situation reminds her of Perilee's daughter's death. Hattie's research in the Chronicle morgue reveals that her uncle once forged a check for more than $4,500.

Hattie is angry and devastated when the Chronicle publisher gives her women in the workplace byline to Ned. Charlie writes and tells her that he's moving to Alaska to work with Boeing. Miss D'Lacorte urges Hattie to rethink her career aspirations in San Francisco. The older woman suggests Hattie should not follow in her footsteps, especially when someone like Charlie is waiting.

Hattie is further confused and frustrated when she sees Ruby, who is supposedly out of town visiting her daughter, in town. She learns Ruby has been conning her. Ruby has also taken money from her employer, who wanted to marry her. There is no sick daughter, and Ruby makes no apologies. She is arrested shortly thereafter.

Hattie, feeling foolish on many counts, comes to the conclusion that she should continue trusting people, but more wisely. She prays for her uncle and writes a letter to Charlie, asking him to marry her. He says yes and does not move to Alaska. Miss D'Lacorte writes her a recommendation, and Hattie becomes a happy, married reporter at a Seattle newspaper.

Christian Beliefs

Hattie says the Good Lord has a sense of humor putting her in Montana. She says her Aunt Ivy nearly drove her crazy quoting Scripture to get her to do things she didn't want to do. But Hattie quotes short Scriptures several times and says short prayers, asking for God's help. She prays fervently for Ruby's sick daughter. Hattie says flipping through old newspapers is a bit like attending a church service. She knows her aunt would consider that sacrilege, since one is about God and one is about man. But Hattie says she thinks there's something sacred about telling stories and telling them true. On her honeymoon, Hattie writes that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Other Belief Systems

Hattie picks up a feather in San Francisco, saying it could be an omen. When Hattie visits Ruby, she often runs into a crazy woman who talks about astrology.

Authority Roles

Miss D'Lacorte provides opportunities, writing tips, personal advice and recommendation letters to help Hattie succeed as a reporter. Though Aunt Ivy never appears in the book, Hattie frequently recalls words of Scripture and godly wisdom the woman shared. Hattie's boss gives the byline for some of the stories she's written to male reporters. Hattie's research reveals that her uncle was a con artist. His former partner in crime, Ruby, pretends to be Hattie's friend, but she steals from her.




After Hattie says she can't marry Charlie, he kisses her goodbye. Ned kisses her once.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

12 and up


Kirby Larson






Record Label



Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House Inc.


On Video

Year Published



Kids Indie Next List, 2013


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